Cook Islands Ministry of Health chief pharmacist, Andrew Orange. 16080910
Cook Islands Secretary of Health Bob Williams says there is no ‘urgency’ to push on with legislation legalising medicinal cannabis because there is already one type available to access from New Zealand.
Williams has told Cook Islands News that a Cabinet Paper on legalising
medicinal cannabis was being prepared.
However, on Monday, Williams
told the newspaper that “there is one medicinal cannabis
medication approved by Medsafe New Zealand that Te Marae Ora can import for
approved patients in the Cook Islands which would not require any legislative
or regulation change. Therefore, there is no urgency for Cabinet to make any
of TMO Andrew Orange has been contacted for comment. Cook Islands News asked
both Williams and Orange what the product was, and how many Cook Islanders have
access to it.
The push for use
of medicinal cannabis in the Cook Islands received overwhelmingly positive
response in a referendum question during the 2022 general elections, with 62
per cent of respondents voting “yes”. The referendum asked: “Should we review
our cannabis laws to allow for research and medicinal use?”
Shortly after the
election result, re-elected Prime Minister Mark Brown told Cook Islands News
that the new Government would be looking very quickly to establish a regime to
allow doctors to prescribe medicinal cannabis for their patients.
“We’re hoping to
get it underway as soon as possible. Further to that, we will be looking at
whether there is a chance to further diversify the economy in regards to
production,” PM Brown earlier said.
Rarotonga medicinal marijuana advocate Steve Boggs said “Medsafe is not
mentioned in our Health Act”.
“I think the Secretary
of Health Bob Williams is cherry picking and has got the blinkers on in this
case,” Boggs said.
“You’re allowed to
use any appropriate country, such as Canada or the United States, as a model
for medicinal cannabis legislation.”
Boggs said both
the Prime Minister’s previous comments and the referendum result indicated that
many people wanted to see some progress urgently on legalising medicinal
“The people have
spoken,” he said.
Boggs said there were a number of cannabis clinics in New Zealand you can contact
to discuss medical marijuana with a doctor.
“Legally you don’t
need anyone in the Government to freely exercise your civil rights as long as
you meet all the requirements for personally prescribed imported medicine,”
“But I’m compelled
to caution everyone that it would be better to contact the Minister of Health
Rose Brown and get her written permission, because otherwise I have no doubt
that somewhere, someone down the line in the Government will try to infringe on
your civil rights and try to put a stop to it.”
New Zealand Drug
Foundation executive director Sarah Helm said: “In New Zealand, both the
industry and patients have struggled with our medicinal cannabis regulations
because they are overly restrictive.”
standards that suppliers are expected to meet, and the lack of funding, mean
that the price is excessive. As a medicinal cannabis patient myself I pay
approximately $330/month for CBD oil (with no THC in it) to manage my
arthritis,” Helm said.
estimate 94 per cent of patients are continuing to use the black market here