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11 November 2022

LETTER TO EDITOR: Medicinal cannabis industry

Tuesday 14 February 2023 | Written by Supplied | Published in Letters to the Editor, Opinion

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LETTER TO EDITOR: Medicinal cannabis industry

Dear Editor, The new Minister for CIIC (Cook Islands Investment Corporation) Albert Nicholas has already got a lot of good work done as was reported in your paper on 11-2-23 when he announced the appointment of the new CIIC Board members after meeting with Cabinet at the end of last month. Rose Brown, the Minister of Health, needs to show the same work ethic and start the process to get our medicinal cannabis industry jump started in the Cook Islands.

There is provision in the Narcotics and Misuse of Drugs Act 2004 that allows the Executive Council to strike out all the laws pertaining to marijuana. I’m not going to bore you with all the legal terminology and phrasing but it’s there and Minister Rose could meet with the PM (Mark Brown) to set up an Executive Council meeting to have the laws on marijuana stricken off the books.

Simultaneously Minister Rose could adopt the medical marijuana plan of Canada that allows the cultivation of four marijuana plants per household and the issuing of licenses for growers to cultivate marijuana 

Everyone who is a part of this programme must pay “x” amount of dollars to the Ministry of Health (MOH) for a medical marijuana card and a license to commercially grow.

The seeds for cultivation for everyone who applies for individual cultivation and commercial licensed cultivation could be purchased by Te Marae Ora (MOH) from marijuana seed banks in Canada who hold export licenses to provide this service.

After the commercial growers’ cannabis has been harvested and packaged, they will sell it to dispensaries (who also must pay an annual fee to the Ministry of Health), in order to fulfil a doctor’s prescription. 

As far as anyone breaking the law by either possessing or cultivating marijuana without the necessary medical marijuana card and license to grow could be prosecuted under the MOH Act in the interim until all laws pertaining to our medicinal marijuana scheme is finalised.

There are provisions in the MOH Act that allow the Minister to work with the police to warn people to cease and desist any and all illegal activity regarding the pharmaceutical products derived from the cannabis plant and if they don’t take heed of this warning they can be fined up to $10,000 and jailed for up to one year or both.

But I want to see in the final medicinal cannabis plan for our nation that people are only fined accordingly for breaking the laws surrounding medicinal cannabis and no one is jailed unless after warnings they don’t pay their fine.

Let’s get real, it’s no stretch that over 60 per cent of our people are using marijuana for either medicinal or recreational purposes and we need to implement a quick fix plan that I briefly laid out until we get something finalised.

Please Minister Rose, you can get this done.

Sincerely,

Steven Boggs