More Top Stories

Rugby Union

Bigger and busier 2023: PM

31 December 2022

Rugby league

Moana target 2025 World Cup

11 November 2022

Letter: Easy steps for cannabis legalisation

Tuesday 26 September 2023 | Written by Supplied | Published in Letters to the Editor, Opinion


Letter: Easy steps for cannabis legalisation

Dear Editor, The Cook Islands Government said the more they look into legalising medicinal cannabis the more problems they come across. This should not be the case, they are overthinking and complicating what is a simple task.

The Cook Islands Government is a signatory of the International Narcotics Control Board (INCB) and under this Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs, it is permissible for the Government to authorise the use of cannabis for medical purposes.

All the Government has to do is follow a few easy and simple steps to make legalisation a reality for our people.

Step #1: Submit an estimate to the INCB of the output consumption of cannabis for medical purposes and the expected number of patients using cannabis for medical purposes. Remember, we’re talking about an estimate here. It’s only a rough calculation, it is not exact and can be adjusted accordingly as we go along.

Step #2: It is also permissible with the INCB to cultivate medicinal cannabis, even for scientific trials. Again, all the INCB wants is an estimate of the output of the consumption and number of patients.

Step # 3. All that the INCB requires to cultivate medicinal cannabis is for the Cook Islands Government to establish a national cannabis agency, because Article 23 and 28 of the Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs require cannabis-producing nations to have a government agency that controls cultivation.

The overall objective, according to the INCB, is for an agency to manage the cultivation of cannabis and the resulting crops. Duties of such an agency include in particular the designation of the area in which and the place of land where the cultivation will be permitted and the establishment of a licensing committee.

This is where we have really lucked out, the Cook Islands Government under the Narcotics and Misuse of Drugs Amendment Act of 2009 already has all the necessary legal framework in place to establish a national cannabis agency to be administered by the police in accordance with the Regulations under that Amendment to manage the cultivation of medicinal cannabis by individual and commercial growers with the issuing of licenses.

After a national cannabis agency is put in place in our police department, made up by senior members of the police force, all that would be required of that agency is to submit to the INCB an annual report on the consumption, stocks and production of cannabis.

The INCB also urges that the prescription of cannabis for medical purposes is performed with competent medical knowledge and this is very easily attainable through a consensus recommended dosage of medicinal cannabis by physicians throughout the world.

Everything required by the INCB for a country to allow for the use and cultivation of medicinal cannabis can be achieved at a minimal cost by the Government. All they need to do is follow these few simple steps to kickstart our cannabis industry for the health and wealth of our people and its tourists.

Having said all that about medicinal cannabis and the INCB, the reality is it’s all just a superficial formality, nothing more than outermost bureaucratic red tape.

The INCB cannot pre-empt the norms of the Cook Islands patients to use medical marijuana to alleviate their symptoms.

This is a norm accepted and recognised by the international community of States and no degradation is permitted by the INCB.

Furthermore, the INCB cannot even pre-empt the total legalisation of marijuana to be used by a State for medical and recreational use.

A perfect example of this is Canada. When Canada totally legalised the use of marijuana, the INCB threw a lot of bluster their way and said they shouldn’t do it. Canada ignored them because they had the backing of the International Law Commission (ILC). The ILC has yet to find anything lending credibility to the position taken by the INCB.

According to the ILC, the “criteria” for identifying peremptory norms of general international law are stringent, “Only a few peremptory norms are generally recognised, and even those are limited to the prohibitions of aggression, genocide, slavery, racial discrimination, crimes against humanity and torture.

The bottom line is this, the Cook Islands Medicinal Cannabis Committee and the Cook Islands Government has run out of excuses for not legalising medicinal cannabis already.

They have been running scared for far too long.


Steve Boggs