The legal status of cannabis puts a ''massive block'' between
client and clinician, Pact mental health clinical leader
Matthew Peppercorn told a cannabis public forum at Dunedin
Clients feared getting in trouble if they discussed cannabis,
eliminating opportunities to minimise harm from its use.
There were some people who should never use it, he said.
Mr Peppercorn believed it was a ''travesty'' synthetic
cannabis products would be approved and regulated under the
Psychoactive Substances Act, instead of using the natural
version as safely as possible.
The new regime seemed like a big money-making venture.
High-profile media coverage created ''shenanigans'' around K2
and other products, which only made people want to try them,
Community Alcohol and Drug Service medical director Dr Gavin
Cape, who favoured cannabis law reform, said like many things
in life, it had a harmful and addictive side.
Those with a family history of mental illness should be wary
of using it, as should adolescents. Smoking it posed
respiratory and cardiovascular risks, he said.
There was a lack of research into cannabis, and studies had
shown both positive and negative effects.
University of Otago anthropologist Geoff Noller, who has
researched its use, said he recently attended a drug forum in
Wellington where there was concern over the Government's lack
of response to the 2011 Law Commission review of drug law,
which recommended taking steps towards legalising cannabis
for medicinal use.
Dr Noller felt ''pessimistic'' about the prospect of law
reform as politicians shied away from it. This was despite
clear evidence of medicinal cannabis' efficacy.
Otago Norml spokesman Abe Gray said Invermay could be
transformed into a hemp research centre. Hemp was an untapped
opportunity for economic development.
After the forum, Southern District Health Board candidate
Julian Crawford, of the Aotearoa Legalise Cannabis Party,
said he would push for the availability of medicinal cannabis
if elected in October.
The forum was organised by Pact.