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Letter: Medicinal cannabis plan

Monday 15 May 2023 | Written by Supplied | Published in Letters to the Editor, Opinion

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Letter: Medicinal cannabis plan
The medicinal cannabis debate continues. 23032024

Dear Editor, I have some very good news. This good news was right there in front of me all this time but I overlooked it.

All the while I have been wrong in thinking the entirety of the Narcotics and Misuse of Drugs Act is under the management of the Ministry of Health.

And the MOH, who in a way that is so obvious that no one could disagree, haven’t lifted a finger to help the patients of the Cook Islands get relief from their physical and emotional ailments through the therapeutic use of medicinal cannabis.

You see Mr. Editor there is an amendment to the 2004 Drugs Act that was enacted in 2009.

It states:

An Act to amend the Narcotics and Misuse of Drugs Act 2004.

Be It Enacted by the Parliament of the Cook Islands in Session assembled by the authority of the same as follows:

1. Short Title-This Act may be cited as the Narcotics and Misuse of Drugs Amendment Act 2009, and shall be read together with the deemed part of the Narcotics and Misuse of Drugs Act 2004 (the “principal Act”.

2.Amendment-Subsection (2) of section 9.

And Subsection 9 of the Narcotics and Misuse of Drugs Amendment Act 2009 is the Cultivation of prohibited plants and this Act is Administered by the Police Department and not the MOH. And the Minister of Police is Prime Minister Mark Brown.

What this all boils down to is the Executive Council can convene and under the Regulations of the Drugs Amendment Act 2009 can provide for the issue of the import, export, possession, production, manufacture, processing, supply, administration, or use of controlled drugs and cultivation of prohibited plants.

Furthermore the Executive Council can prescribe the form, duration, terms, and conditions of any license under this 2009 Amendment.

The Executive Council can put in place the Regulations for the licensing of individual and designated cultivation of cannabis for medicinal usage.

A patient who thinks they have a qualifying debilitating condition can meet with their doctor and your doctor may issue a medical document if they determine you should use cannabis to treat your ailments.

A patient would proceed to the police station and fill out a detailed form giving them a license for their right to either cultivate ‘x’ amount of cannabis plants for medicinal usage or have a designated grower do it for them. (The fee for a license would be x amount of dollars)

There is a near universal form that medicinal cannabis patients are required to fill out to cultivate their own cannabis and I would be more than wanting and willing to help the Government to get that done.

This stopgap measure can be used until a medicinal cannabis plan is enacted by the Government at a later date.

But more importantly the Government has rid itself of the false premise that the launch of medicinal cannabis products in our country runs through the MOH.

No longer does the Government have to hold on to the belief that it was necessary for the Chairman of the Medicinal Cannabis Committee to ask the Secretary of Health for leniency on medicinal cannabis to be allowed in the country and for the Secretary to use his powers to “waive” certain products through as was reported in this newspaper.

The Executive Council holds sole power and responsibility over the export, import, possession and cultivation of cannabis by anyone into the Cook Islands and certainly not the MOH.

The Government can also put to bed that any senior government official has any power over the Executive Council to make any decisions on the introduction of medicinal cannabis into our nation because no public servant holds an advantage over the Executive Council.

If the Government is seen to be allowing or does allow any public servant to dictate the policies and laws of this great young nation then that would be an existential threat to our democracy.

Sincerely,

Steve Boggs