A local lawyer is delighted with a poll indicating many Cook Islanders want to see medicinal cannabis legalised.
Cook Islands News polled 120 people in Rarotonga and the Pa Enua about several election issues. One of the questions asked: Do you support the use of medicinal cannabis? Of those polled, 49.2 per cent said “yes”, 37.5 per cent said “no”, and the rest were unsure.
During this year’s General Election on Monday, voters will also be asked to vote on a referendum asking “Should we review our cannabis laws to allow for research and medicinal use?”
Defence lawyer Norman George said the poll result was “great news”.
“In my experience, there are strong benefits for medicinal cannabis,” George said.
“I’ve never used cannabis myself, but I feel there should be lower penalties for possession of cannabis. But that’s for the future, we need to walk before we can run. In that regard, we should start with the legalisation of medicinal cannabis.”
George said should medicinal cannabis be legalised, it needed to be only available via prescription from a doctor.
“We want to be sure it will only be used for medical purposes,” he said. Drug reform campaigner Steven Boggs was delighted with the result.
“Our people know medicinal cannabis is safer than most other prescribed medications and has an endless list of benefits to treat a multitude of ailments and disease,” Boggs said.
“More and more Cook Islanders are no longer afraid to talk to their doctor about whether medicinal marijuana may be the proper treatment for them.”
Boggs said medicinal cannabis is gaining traction as a legitimate recommendation for a host of various symptoms.
“The most recent Ministry of Health study found that of the 400,000 New Zealanders who use cannabis, a majority of them (52 per cent) do so for medical purposes,” he said.
“Australian support for legalisation of medicinal cannabis has increased every year in Australia since 2004 and is now at a 69 per cent favourability rate. Doctors in the US say 75 per cent of their patients use medicinal cannabis for symptom control, and 91 per cent of adults in the US support medicinal cannabis.”
Boggs said criminalising people who use medical marijuana undermines the legitimacy of the law.
“Existing laws make thousands of hardworking and productive Cook Islanders drug users by definition; what is the purpose of our marijuana laws, to make criminals out of over half of our adults?”
“This will all come to an end with the legalisation of medical marijuana.
"Not only that, the impact of legalising medicinal cannabis nationwide would generate thousands of jobs which would come from the quickly growing industry of medical marijuana that would spring up across our nation."