New Zealand


We Need to Get the Facts Right on Cannabis Addiction

A contribution from the New Zealand Drug Foundation

In 2013, Professor Wayne Hall presented a paper at an International Cannabis Policy Symposium hosted by the New Zealand Drug Foundation in Auckland. It was a review into 20 years of existing research into cannabis titled "What has research over the past two decades revealed about the adverse health effects of recreational cannabis use?".

So far, so uncontroversial. 


'An illness knows no boundary' - Kiwi mum calls for medicinal cannabis trials to start

Hawke's Bay mother-of-five Tonie Matich will hold a symposium in March next year in Wellington, calling for trials over the use of medicinal cannabis to start.

She has the backing of Children's Commissioner Russel Wills, the NZ Drug Foundation and associate health minister Peter Dunne in her mission, who believe medicinal cannabis should be legalised in New Zealand to treat illnesses.

"It has to be done properly. This isn't a cure-all," Ms Matich says.


Hawke's Bay mother who gave daughter cannabis oil tells why she broke the law

A Hawke's Bay mother wants people to know what drove her to break the law by giving her daughter cannabis oil.

Toni Matich told TV One's Sundayprogramme she had no regrets because she eased her daughter's suffering.

Ms Matich said she had "spectacular" results after supplying her 17-year-old daughter, Monique, with cannabis oil to alleviate the pain from enduring more than 1000 seizures a day.

Monique was diagnosed with Dravet syndrome, a rare form of epilepsy that begins in infancy.

Every seizure carries the risk of causing severe brain damage.

Ms Matich was told by doctors she had exhausted all treatment options and her daughter had only months to live when she began researching medicinal marijuana.


New Zealand: Drug review focuses on compassion

How severely people are dealt with for possession of illegal drugs or drug utensils is to be reviewed - with officials to focus on whether action is proportionate to how much harm an offence causes.

Associate Health Minister Peter Dunne has released the 2015-2020 National Drug Policy, which could significantly reform the treatment of drugs such as cannabis.

Mr Dunne said three words - compassion, innovation and proportion - were of the utmost importance when developing drug policy.

The policy has been hailed as hugely significant by the NZ Drug Foundation, who say it signalled an armistice in "The War on Drugs".

"[It] all adds up to a signal that changes need to happen with how we deal with low-level drug offending," said executive director Ross Bell.


Rotorua man gets jail time for supplying synthetic cannabis

A former licensed retailer of synthetic cannabis has been sentenced to three years four months imprisonment after a series of police raids netted drugs with a street value of more than $1 million and $181,000 in cash.

David Ronald Young, 52, appeared in the Rotorua District Court on Wednesday where he was sentenced on charges of possession and supply of synthetic cannabis and the class C drugs, TFMPP and BZP.

Judge Philip Cooper said the case involved "very large quantities [of drugs] with very large returns".

Young, the owner of Rotorua retailer Skingraft, was formerly licensed to sell synthetic cannabis until the law change on May 8, 2014, which made the sale of the product illegal.


NZ: Focusing on medicinal cannabis is missing the point

Although the deabte over medicinal cannabis debate is currently one of the hot moral and social topics, it misses the real issue. It's part of a wider subject.

It's a question of what we're doing on this planet. We're not here to pay taxes, or to be righteous, or even necessarily to be healthy. We are on this planet to live. To experience this reality and what it has to offer.

We already know that different people like to experience different things. Some people like to spend time with their close family. Some people like to drink alcohol. Some people like to make millions of dollars trading.

It's a big world, and there's room for a lot of different behaviours here.


The cannabis experiment -

As marijuana use becomes more acceptable, researchers are scrambling to answer key questions about the drug.

In 2013, Beau Kilmer took on a pretty audacious head count. Citizens in the state of Washington had just voted to legalize marijuana for recreational use, and the state's liquor control board, which would regulate the nascent industry, was anxious to understand how many people were using the drug — and importantly, how much they were consuming.


New Zealand: 'Medical marijuana's fantastic but it isn't the whole story'

Self-medicating with cannabis is not going to harm you, says Jeanette Saxby. Getting arrested for having cannabis is far more damaging.

I have been using cannabis since I was 17. I was first prescribed anti-depressants after a bad spell of gloomy at 14. I am now nearly 50 and have spent several years at university to better understand marijuana use in New Zealand.

I had a bad fall from a horse in 2003 and damaged my pelvis, back and hip. I haven't had a day free from pain in over a decade.

At the time I had my accident I was working at Odyssey House in Christchurch as I am a qualified drug and alcohol counsellor with a degree in education.


Kelly van Gaalen supporters want bail for cannabis sentence

The devastated family of a Kaikohe community leader jailed for two years for cannabis supply has lodged an appeal.

Kelly van Gaalen✓, a 38-year-old mother of three, was sentenced to two years in prison for possession of cannabis for supply in the Kaikohe District Court on July 30 following a jury trial. She was charged with having 684g of cannabis, 24 times the personal use limit of 28g. 

She had two plants, including one that had grown "exceptionally well", a family spokesperson says.

"She was a victim of an exceptional gardening skill," the spokesperson says.

"You don't use a pile driver to pulverise a peanut."

The family applied for bail in Whangarei District Court on August 3. The application was declined.


Jack Tame: A sad case of unnatural justice

If Kelly van Gaalen is reading this article, she'll be reading it in prison.

I don't know her personally. If you Google her, though, you'll see that last December she was one of 15 recipients of Northland's Local Hero medal, acknowledging her efforts in a community that has had more than its share of tough times.

She's a former member of the Kaikohe-Hokianga Community Board, the former chair of the Kaikohe Community Arts Council and the former promotions manager for the Kaikohe Business Association.

But all those positions are prefixed by "former" because — remember — van Gaalen is in prison.


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