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Statement expected next week on medicinal cannabis : Prime Minister’s Office

Wednesday 27 September 2023 | Written by Losirene Lacanivalu | Published in Economy, Health, Local, National

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Statement expected next week on medicinal cannabis : Prime Minister’s Office
The medicinal cannabis debate continues. 23032024

The final draft report and a plan for a medicinal cannabis regime has been completed, says Office of the Prime Minister chief of staff Ben Ponia.

Ponia said this has been completed by Cannabis Referendum Committee members who participated in a study tour to New Zealand.

It is now with the committee members for consideration and feedback. 

Ponia said once comments have been consolidated, committee chair, Tingika Elikana, will issue a media statement, possibly next week.

The committee includes Health Secretary Bob Williams, Marie Francis and pharmacist Andrew Orange and Solicitor-General Lauaki Jason Annandale.

The report is expected to be based on the findings from the study visit, and consultations that were undertaken in New Zealand and Australia where Francis and pharmacist Orange were fact finding.

The committee had earlier said that the priority is a medicinal cannabis regime, and the challenge is not to simply transpose the New Zealand or Australia formulae onto the Cook Islands, but to select those components that are applicable so that “we can enable a regime that fits our aspirations”.

Letter writer Steve Boggs continues to question the delay in decision making and says the government has failed by not legalising medicinal cannabis.

Boggs claimed that shortly after been given a command by the voters in the general election of August 1, 2022, Prime Minister Mark Brown failed to meet in the executive council with two other required members of the Cabinet, Mac Mokoroa and George Angene, to initiate provisions for the issue of licences, that allow for the personal importation of medicinal cannabis by all travellers and the import, export, production and manufacturing of the cultivation of the prohibited marijuana plant for individual and commercial growers to help alleviate the physical and mental anguish of Cook Islands patients, and help to kick-start a medicinal cannabis industry.

“After promising to ‘move very quickly’, even to this day, with the full complement of Cabinet ministers to meet in the executive council, the PM has done nothing to free up the barbaric and inhumane laws on marijuana that have brutalised our people for decades,” Boggs said.

“The PM has not upheld the Ministry of Health Act 2013 that allows for the personal importation of medicinal cannabis by all travellers, as long as all the requirements are met and thereby has interfered in the sanctity of patient-physician relationship.”