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Hundreds of us supported the push for compassionate medicinal cannabis laws

And it looks like we'll be working together for the cannabis referendum

Last year over 6,000 members of the ActionStation community came together to call on the Government to allow doctors to prescribe cannabis products. Building on the pressure of campaigning over many years by a variety of groups and individuals, they made this change. However expensive cannabis products were still out of reach for the majority of people who would most benefit.

We made an oral submission to the Health Select Committee on behalf of 235 ActionStation members who want more compassionate medicinal cannabis laws.

Our submission was crowdsourced from people suffering everything from restless leg syndrome to endometriosis to cancer to epilepsy to parkinson's. Whānau members, caregivers and friends of people in chronic and debilitating pain. People who have seen the negative side effects of addictive legal opiates and pharmaceuticals and want access to alternatives. People excited about the economic benefits and jobs a thriving medicinal cannabis industry could bring to Aotearoa.

We talked about how if you're young, Māori and male and you're caught growing cannabis to sell for medicinal purposes you're more likely to face criminal charges than someone who is older, female and Pākehā. And how neither should face prison because they are delivering alleviation from suffering to people who need it.

Thankfully, the Government has now passed legislation making it easier for people with terminal illness to get access to the help they need. It's not perfect, but it's a lot better than what we had.

As for next steps:

Justice Minister Andrew Little has announced that a binding referendum on legalising the personal use of cannabis will be held at the next general election in 2020. What that means is that the legislation will be drafted ahead of the vote, and it will be enacted into law if New Zealanders vote for it. It doesn't mean it's our law forever as future governments can undo it, as they can with any piece of legislation.

We surveyed more than 5,000 ActionStation members to get their views on this important issue. Here's what they said:

  • 81% said adults should be allowed to possess and use cannabis;
  • 77% said adults should be allowed to grow cannabis for personal use;
  • 79% said adults should be allowed to purchase cannabis in licensed premises;
  • 75% said cannabis sales should be regulated and taxed in a way similar to alcohol;
  • 80% think the tax revenue from cannabis sales should be earmarked for drug education, prevention and treatment;
  • 51% of people thought adult should mean 20 or 21, while 43% thought it should meant over 18;
  • When asked how big a priority we should make campaign on this when balanced with our other campaigns, the average answer was 3.91 out of 6;
  • People said they would donate, door-knock, research, make phone calls and many other offers we are yet to deeply analyse. 
We will analyse the open-field answers a bit more deeply and report back to ActionStation members with next steps in the new year.
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