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Opinion

LETTERS: Proposed medicinal cannabis plan

Saturday 27 August 2022 | Written by Supplied | Published in Letters to the Editor, Opinion

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LETTERS: Proposed medicinal cannabis plan

Dear Editor,

What it means for individuals who require access to cannabis for medicinal purposes. This is by no means a blueprint for our medicinal cannabis plan but merely an outline or rough draft if you will, based somewhat on Canada’s plan in 2016 for medicinal cannabis before they legalised all marijuana use.

Individuals with a medical need, and who have authorisation of their health care practitioner can access quality-controlled cannabis in three ways. 

After acquiring a prescription from a doctor, you will have to register with the Ministry of Health to obtain a medical marijuana card that can range in cost from $50 to $200 on a yearly basis. 

The first two options to obtain medical marijuana is to harvest a limited amount of cannabis for yourself, up to four plants per individual, or designate someone else to grow it for you.

An individual can get a monthly prescription and they would be able to possess a thirty-day supply of 150 grams of dried marijuana or the equivalent amount in another form.

When you register with the Ministry of Health to grow your own or have a designated person to harvest it for you, it will have to include detailed information on the location and storage activities. 

So in summation, of the first two options, you get a prescription, register with the Ministry of Health to get your medical marijuana card, and receive a registration certificate for your legal authority to possess and produce cannabis for your own personal use at a designated area.

Two more things, a designated grower can only produce for a maximum of two individuals and everyone must indicate on their application to produce marijuana plants if it's indoor or outdoors or a combination of both.

The third way to access medicinal cannabis is through licensed producers. The Ministry of Health can issue licenses to growers to harvest up to one acre of marijuana. In the US, growers are issued licenses ranging from a low of $250 a year in Oregon to a high of $4820 a year in California. Short seasoned varieties of marijuana plants equate to 1200 to 2000 plants per acre and longer season varieties equate to 600 to 1200.

The shorter season takes two to three months and the longer season four to six months.

I think it would be best for the Government and growers to negotiate on a price per year on a license. On the island of Rarotonga maybe issue somewhere between three to 10 licenses per Vaka. 

There would be requirements to obtain and maintain a license, establishment and personnel security measures, authorised activities, including good production practices, packaging, labelling requirements, record keeping requirements, client registration, and ordering requirements. 

Individuals and licensed growers seeking to produce outdoors must confirm that the production site is not adjacent to a school, public playground, daycare or other public place mainly frequented by children. All growers are required to maintain any measures they think are necessary to protect the security of the cannabis. 

The list of criteria per licensed producer is too detailed to catalog at this time.  For example the list of medical marijuana growers on what pesticides can and can't be used. California is the most sophisticated for growing cannabis and has accepted the reality of pesticide use on marijuana. California has therefore imposed limits, rather than outright bans, on some pesticide residue in cannabis products. 

Also I believe local growers would keep the quality of marijuana at a high standard and have competitive prices or face the general population to bypass them and grow their own. 

A grower can sell their product to a dispensary or have their own dispensary. 

Customers would need to have a prescription and a valid medical marijuana card to buy from the dispensary, if your medical marijuana card has expired the dispensary can issue a new one and that fee would go directly back to the government, additionally a patient can order their prescription to be delivered to them directly via the dispensaries website.

But remember, you always have to present your prescription and valid medical marijuana card.

The Government must insist on child-resistant packaging for cannabis products. Choosing such packaging helps make marijuana safer for people who use it and their families. 

Now comes a tricky question that you need to figure out and answer to, what price should you charge when you are ready to sell your cannabis? Since you're selling a valuable product, as a general rule you want to make an average of 30 per cent profit after deducting all expenses and taxes. You could sell paraphernalia in your dispensary such as various smoking pipes, water pipes, assorted papers and filters, medicine containers and locked smell proof cases. You could also sell smaller marijuana accessories in these dispensaries such as roach clips, lighters, trays and grinders. 

Marijuana tourism will also attract millions of visitors over the years and millions of dollars. Tourists of the appropriate age can take tours that stop at grow facilities, cannabis oil refineries and dispensaries, given that the product is always secured, while enjoying seeing the rich agriculture the Cook Islands provides.

All that being said, only tourists who arrive with possession of a valid medical marijuana card and or current prescription from overseas may purchase a temporary medical marijuana prescription from the Ministry of Health in an amount not exceeding the extent of their stay. 

We can take the approach of cannabis being a quality of life plant.

In administering the regulations, the Ministry of Health will need to work closely with a range of groups including healthcare professionals, law enforcement, Cook Island Tourism Industry, Cook Island Tourism Corporation, Chamber of Commerce, as well as all Cook Islanders and tourists interested in using the programme. 

Overall, consumers of medicinal cannabis feel that cannabis is safer or healthier to use than some pharmaceuticals and report personal experiences of therapeutic benefits.  

That’s my two cents worth anyway.

Sincerely,

Steve Boggs