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19 July 2022

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LETTERS: Support for cannabis referendum

Tuesday 26 July 2022 | Written by Supplied | Published in Editorials, Opinion

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LETTERS: Support for cannabis referendum

Dear Editor, in Monday’s edition of the Cook Islands News (18-7-22), Teariki Heather, the leader of the United Party, put out a lot of misleading and misinformed comments regarding the upcoming referendum on medicinal cannabis.

Teariki’s comments can’t go unchallenged, there is too much at stake for the betterment of the health and wellness of the Cook Islands people.

Teariki said, “The referendum was the wrong timing and was a political move by the CIP.” He believes, “the people have not been widely consulted on the benefits or whatever”. Teariki thinks, “the process needs to be consulted with the people first, then they will put it in a referendum”.

It’s obvious Teariki hasn’t been paying any attention to the extensive coverage on the facts of the benefits of medicinal cannabis that have been brought forth in our newspapers, radio, TV and social media for the past year.

It isn’t anyone’s fault, except Teariki, that he doesn’t have the information he needs to know that Cook Islanders are suffering needlessly without the benefits of medicinal cannabis products and our people are unjustly in prison for simple possession of medical marijuana.

As most of us know and now for Teariki’s information, the benefits of medicinal cannabis are endless. The use of medical marijuana has been widely successful in treating those who suffer from anxiety, pain, inflammation; it reduces nausea and vomiting brought on by cancer and chemotherapy; it relaxes muscles in people with MS; stimulates appetite and aids with weight gain in people with terminal illness. It has also shown promise in treating severe autism as well as ADHD, cerebral palsy, pain linked to arthritis and gout, PTSD, and is even used in moderation during recovery from drug or alcohol abuse. Cannabinoids are even easily available in non-psychoactive forms such as Delta-8 THC, helpful to anyone who is sensitive to psychoactive effects more commonly associated with Delta 9 THC or those who suffer from mental illness like BDP, depression, bipolar disorder, etc.

The negatives you might associate with cannabis come from a time of stigmatisation, ignorantly labelling it as dangerous or drug use.

I can assure you it is a God given plant meant to help people in a multitude of ways.

Teariki goes on to say in the Cook Islands News article, “I’m concerned about our young people ... to be addicted to that, God knows what happens to the future of this country”. Teariki is exaggerating the adverse effects of cannabis addiction because he doesn’t know or doesn’t understand the scientific evidence that debunks his claim of addiction.

Marijuana is far less harmful than tobacco and alcohol. Studies have shown cannabis to be less addictive than nicotine and alcohol and on par with caffeine.

Statistics have proven that lifetime dependence rates on cannabis at 9 per cent, same as caffeine, alcohol has a 15per cent rate of abuse and tobacco is 32 per cent. And cannabis has been used for over 5000 years without a single human death.

Teariki should be putting more focus on alcohol abuse. The Cook Islands leads the world per capita in alcohol consumption. Most Cook Islands women who are victims of spousal abuse report to the police that their partner had been drinking at the time of their suffering. And most of our youth who abuse alcohol had seen their mothers abused or been abused themselves.

Teariki’s United Party says they want to help in the fight against non-communicable disease. I’ve outlined in this letter the many ways medicinal cannabis can help treat and alleviate a lot of the ills of NCDs, it doesn’t make any sense to delay getting this medicine out to our people.

Another faulty claim Teariki made was, “by legalising it not only for medicinal purposes it sort of creates the freedom for households, but my concern is the little ones”.

While adult medical use of cannabis will be legal in the Cook Islands, it will be illegal to keep your prescription within the reach of children. Of all the reasons medicinal cannabis consuming parents want to keep their medicine secure, none is more important than their children’s safety.

The two main reasons why it will be crucial to store medicinal cannabis away from children will be simple – it will be the law and it keeps our children safe.

The Cook Islands Government body that will regulate medicinal cannabis products will surely recognise the need for medicinal cannabis to be dispensed in child-resistant containers. Medicinal cannabis users will need to follow health and safety laws like they do in NZ, Australia and throughout the world by using child-proof materials.

And on top of that there are many other ways for storing your medicinal cannabis. There are a lot of inexpensive products online or better yet, that could be brought in by local retailers. For example, there are many four-digit combination locks that keep children safe from your medicinal cannabis, while their vacuum sealed metal containers keep your cannabis fresh. It’s difficult for a child to unscrew even after the correct combination is entered 

Please, vote yes on the medicinal cannabis referendum.

Sincerely,

Steve Boggs