Legalise Cannabis House manager Abe Gray smokes 'a legal high' - he is hoping for a relaxation of the laws around cannabis use for medicinal purposes. Photo by Dan Hutchinson
There are claims at least one Dunedin doctor has issued
explanatory notes for patients who want to use cannabis for
Medical groups and the police have reaffirmed that cannabis
possession and use is illegal, even though some people
medical use of cannabis is exempt.
A Dunedin cannabis user has shown The Star a letter
that he says was prepared by a city doctor, which appears to
explain why he is using cannabis.
The Star spoke to the user on condition of anonymity. The
letter, which is printed on a doctor's letterhead, identified
the user as a patient and explained he had cannabis for his
own, medicinal use.
The user said he started using cannabis after a serious motor
vehicle accident left him in chronic pain. He told his doctor
when he started using it.
The doctor did not necessarily support the decriminalisation
of cannabis for medical purposes, but was glad he had found
something to help with the pain, the man said.
The doctor gave him a note explaining he was a medicinal
cannabis user and not a supplier of the drug. He intended to
present this to police if he ever got in trouble, he said.
Dunedin-based cannabis researcher Geoff Noller said, under
law, physicians could prescribe whatever they saw fit to
Dr Noller said he was aware of at least one Dunedin medical
professional who had ''prescribed'' cannabis.
However, except for a strictly controlled cannabinoid product
called Sativex, it was not possible to obtain cannabis
legally, he said.
Dr Noller believed cannabis law reform needed to be
New Zealand Medical Association chairman Dr Mark Peterson
said a doctor's certificate did not make cannabis legal. He
counselled against doctors issuing the notices, which tacitly
accepted breaking the law, he said.A police spokesman said
the practice of issuing notes was ''not lawful and police are
not aware of any medical practitioner doing it''.
If an officer had to deal with someone who said they used
cannabis for medicinal purposes, the law would still apply
and ''police will deal with the matter appropriately
dependent on the circumstances''.
New Zealand Medical Council communications manager George
Symmes said he had nothing to say on the issue except that it
was illegal, while Southern District Health Board chief
medical Officer David Tulloch was not aware of any
prescribing of cannabis.
Southern Primary Health Organisation chief executive Ian
Macara said his organisation was also unaware of such notes.
However, he said the organisation was not responsible for
''the ethical or therapeutic decisions of individual
- by Jonathan Chilton-Towle