• Medical Cannabis

last modified June 2, 2017 by strypey

Claims and Counter-claims for Medical Cannabis

 Specific Illnesses

1. Used correctly, cannabis can be an effective treatment for many mental illnesses.

 1. There's growing evidence that cannabis causes psychosis in a small number of heavy users, so it is a risky idea to use it as a mental health treatment.
2. Herbal cannabis is a good treatment for relieving the symptoms of Parkinson's Disease.
2. Herbal cannabis is not a good treatment for relieving the symptoms of Parkinson's Disease.
3. Herbal cannabis is a good treatment for chronic nerve pain

3. Herbal cannabis is not a good treatment for chronic nerve pain

 4. In some types of cancer, cannabis "can and does send cancerous cells into apoptosis (self-suicide)" US - United Patients Group.  4. Cannabis has no therapeutic effect on cancer.


Social and Political Considerations

 1. Activists for legalization of recreational use and commercialization generally support the idea that cannabis should be legal to prescribe for medicinal use, and are happy to say so publicly, but politicians can change the law to allow either medical or recreational/ commercial reform, without allowing the other.
  1. Medical cannabis campaigns are just a front for activists who want legalization of commercial sales for recreational users.
 2. Traditionally conservative organisations that support the legal availability of cannabis for medicinal use include NZ Grey Power Federation, NZ Drug Foundation, NZ Law Commission,
 2. Only stoners want to have access to whole plant cannabis as a "medicine", respectable organisations may support the creation of patented pharmaceuticals based on cannabis chemistry, but not the use of whole plant cannabis.

 3. Although some users may obtain recreational cannabis through medical channels, or combine medical and recreational use, this leads to reduced harm.

2007: Thomas J O'Connell and Ché B Bou-Matar, 'Long term marijuana users seeking medical cannabis in California (2001–2007): demographics, social characteristics, patterns of cannabis and other drug use of 4117 applicants', Harm Reduction Journal

 3. Legalizing medical use makes it easier for people to use cheat the system and get cannabis for recreational use, leading to increased harm.

Points of Interest

  • Organisations that support the medical use of cannabis include NORML NZ, Medical Cannabis Awareness NZ, NZ Drug Foundation, NZ Grey Power Federation (the Federation has expressed contentment with medical exceptions to cannabis prohibition being devolved to the Ministry of Health, the Otamatea chapter wants access devolved further to medical doctors), NZ Law Commission, United in Compassion (Aus), US United Patients Group. A long list of medical organisations supporting medical access, or at least research into medical benefits, can be found at DrugScience.org.
  • Organisations sceptical of medical cannabis, but not totally opposed, include the members of the US Smart Approaches to Marijuana (SAM) coalition,
  • Organisations opposed to any change of policy or law to allow greater medical use of cannabis include NZ Family First,
  • A study at the University at Buffalo found that chronically stressing non-humans "reduced the production of endocannabinoids, leading to depression-like behavior”, according to Dr Samir Haj-Dahmane, implying that cannabis could be an effective treatment for depression in humans.
  • The DrugAbuse.gov site has a page explaining why the US FDA won't approve herbal cannabis as a medical treatment.
  • In 2016 the NZ Medical Journal published an article entitled 'Cannabis in New Zealand: smoking gun or medicalised smokescreen?', which didn't seem to take the growing evidence for the therapeutic benefits of cannabis very seriously, but did cautiously indicate support for recreational law change.
  • In 2015 the NZ Ministry of Health issues the 'Cannabis Use 2012/13: New Zealand Health Survey', which states "Forty-two percent of cannabis users reported medicinal use (ie, to treat pain or another medical condition) in the last 12 months".
  • NZ Police official position on cannabis.
  • The website MedPot.co.nz  has information on both the evidence for and the legality of medicinal cannabis in Aotearoa/ NZ.

Primary Sources

News Coverage


Improvement Notes

2017-06-3: Top table needs fixing so the borders show up (or would it look better if all the borders were invisible?)