Is taking drugs a human right?

Is taking drugs a human right?

Some peers and MPs in Europe think so.

Drug users have a human right to feed their habit, MPs and peers have said, as they claimed international conventions banning drugs need to be reformed.

The All-Party Parliamentary Group for Drug Policy Reform said in a new report that Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights – the rights to “private and family life” – could be deployed by drug users who face prosecution.

Regulation of banned substances “needs to reflect the supremacy of human rights conventions”, the report said.

It was the latest in a series of controversial proposals by the committee which two years ago said heroin and cocaine should be decriminalised, and less harmful drugs such as cannabis should be sold openly by licensed dealers.

“For European countries the European Convention on Human Rights, in particular Article 8, could be invoked in support of the argument that possession or purchase or cultivation of drugs for personal use, particularly in small quantities, do not injure other people’s rights either directly or indirectly and therefore should not be criminalised,” it said.

“The interpretation of the Drug Control Conventions must take full account of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and the impact of current policies in human terms.

“This applies fully to the response to the production, trafficking and sale of controlled drugs.

“When the existing unbalanced prohibitionist response to drug market activities breaches human rights, then adjustments must be made.”    Read more »

Weed can help mend broken bones

Israeli scientists have made an interesting discovery…cannabis can aid in healing broken bones.

Fracture a joint? Smoke a joint. Or at least that’s what researchers from Tel Aviv University have suggested after studying the effects of marijuana on broken bones.

A new study published in the Journal of Bone and Mineral Research last week says that a component of marijuana known as cannabidiol (CBD) “significantly helps heal bone fractures” by speeding up the process. It also strengthens bones, protecting them against future injuries.    Read more »

Why isn’t Kelvin Davis campaigning for this woman instead of Arthur Taylor?

Kelvin Davis became the about the fourth Labour MP to trot off to Paremoremo prison to sit and listen to Arthur Taylor’s whining.

Instead of kowtowing to Arthur Taylor perhaps he should be addressing this travesty of a decision.

A leading figure in Kaikohe’s arts and business communities has been jailed for two years after being found guilty of possession of cannabis for supply.

Kelly van Gaalen was sentenced in the Kaikohe District Court on Thursday following a jury trial last month. Friends and family in the public gallery, including her three children, wept and called out as the distraught 38-year-old was led away.

Van Gaalen was a member of the Kaikohe-Hokianga Community Board as well as the chair of the Kaikohe Community Arts Council and promotions manager for the Kaikohe Business Association. She has resigned from her positions. A community board by-election will be held in October.

Judge John McDonald told the court that van Gaalen’s husband had been the victim of a violent home invasion by three armed men on July 14 last year. Mr van Gaalen, who was home alone, managed to escape and raise the alarm.

However, when police arrived they discovered a bucket of dried cannabis and more in a snaplock bag.

In total it weighed 684g.

Van Gaalen had told the court it was for personal use and to give away to about 20 close friends. She had two plants, one of which had grown exceptionally well. She said she smoked cannabis daily and had started when she was 14.

Judge McDonald said there was no evidence of commercial dealing, such as text messages on her phone, but Parliament had set the upper limit for personal use at 28g. Van Gaalen had 24 times that and knew it was against the law.


The cops have to be dicks for prosecuting this as well. They go to their house for one reason and end up gathering evidence against a victim of crime. No money changed hands, no harm came to anyone, and she gets two years in prison.

On top of that there was quite a bit of coverage on talkback and other news regarding the severity of the sentence and much was made of the judge having to be consistent in sentencing therefore having little choice but to give her a term of imprisonment. Read more »

Medicinal Cannabis on its way


At last some progress on legalisation of cannabis, albeit for medicinal purposes.

Toni-Marie Matich’s eldest daughter suffers from intractable epilepsy – a seizure disorder that cannot be controlled with conventional medicine. It led the Hawkes Bay mother-of-five to found United in Compassion (UIC), which advocates for New Zealand-based research into the therapeutic effects of cannabis-based medicines. The paediatrician caring for her daughter just happens to be the Children’s Commissioner, Russell Wills.

And that’s led to the unlikely but powerful alliance of Wills and UIC, teaming up with NZ Drug Foundation, to campaign for broader access to medicinal cannabis. It’s raised the prospect that it could soon become as readily available as morphine.

For Wills, juggling both roles could be a political minefield, but he says its not an issue: as a doctor, he can see the daily impact of what these “devastating diseases do to children and their families”. He’s not short of stories of desperate and vulnerable families who have gone to “extraordinary lengths to obtain treatments at enormous cost and extreme risk that then aren’t effective”.

“I think doctors are desperate,” he says, “to see patients have access to effective treatments.”

Research and random-control trials of cannabinoid products are underway in Israel and the United States and the results of those trials could be just months away – which could mean a New Zealand-approved product could be available by next year, once manufacturers have produced a product and passed MedSafe checks.

At that point Pharmac will negotiate a price with the manufacturers and Wills doesn’t see there being any delays because associate health minister Peter Dunne, the ministry, doctors and parents “are all on the same page”.

“Pharmac will be persuaded by evidence of effect and cost.”

Read more »


40 years for the War on Drugs…total failure

We have spent forty years on the ‘War on Drugs’ in this country, and not a single positive outcome has occurred.

It is the same around the world and is leading countries to look at alternatives. Portugal is a classic example, that shows that contrary to the nay-sayers, decriminalisation can actually work in addressing the harm of drugs.

So, in New Zealand people are now having to re-think our approach…the problem though is just a single, old fashioned old fool can hold up any real progress.

Drug law reform. Is there any better example of a heart versus head issue? Logic and rationality tells you that the system does not work, that drugs are a medical issue not a criminal one. But your gut says lock all the junkies and potheads up.

It is Ross Bell’s job to wrestle with these dilemmas. For 11 years he has been chief executive of the New Zealand Drug Foundation, a charitable trust charged with preventing and reducing harms caused by drug use.

The irony is that decriminalisation of drugs can reduce harms more effectively than prohibition. This is where the Drug Foundation now finds itself. Bell’s current angle is that our drug law turns 40 this year and is showing its age. Time for an overhaul.

The Misuse of Drugs Act became law in 1975, during the last days of Bill Rowling’s Labour government. It was that long ago, a time of dancing cossacks, disco and Fleetwood Mac. The big drug scares were heroin and LSD.

During the parliamentary debate, Rowling-era police minister Michael Connelly aired the then-fashionable view that cannabis was a gateway drug. Pot smokers would naturally “graduate” to harder drugs.

But New Zealand was really being a follower and getting behind the United States, Bell says. President Richard Nixon declared a war on drugs in 1971. The United Nations agreed on a new drugs treaty in the same year. New Zealand had to keep up.   Read more »

Scientists manage to seperate cannabis medicinal benefits from its hallucinogenic effects


Scientists have discovered that inhibiting a receptor in the brain meant they could trigger cannabis’ medicinal benefits but not its unwanted side effects. This enables cannabis to shrink cancer tumours and retain its pain relief capabilities.

Scientists have, for the first time, been able to separate the medical benefits of cannabis from its unwanted side effects, it has emerged.

The research comes from the team that discovered how the main psychoactive ingredient in cannabis, known as THC, reduces tumour growth in cancer patients.

Their latest findings reveal how the cognitive effects of THC, such as memory loss and anxiety, are triggered by a pathway which is separate from some of its other effects, including pain relief.

That pathway involves both a cannabinoid receptor and a serotonin receptor.

When it is blocked, THC can still exert several beneficial effects while avoiding impairment of memory.

The research was carried out in mice by scientists at the University of East Anglia (UEA) in collaboration with a team at the University Pompeu Fabra in Barcelona.

It is hoped the breakthrough will pave the way for safe cannabis-based therapies that do not cause alterations in mood, perception or memory.   Read more »

We’d rather have people live and die in pain, apparently

Our government can be heartless at times, and I’m not talking about cold state houses or not throwing more welfare at bludgers.

I mean simple law changes that would make people suffering live much more comfortable lives.

Recently the family of a Nelson boy suffering severe seizures won a dispensation from the Government to treat him with cannabis oil, opening the whole discussion about the medical use of cannabis in this country.

But there are plenty of people who believe in the efficacy of cannabis as medicine and who aren’t prepared to wait for the law to catch up.

Cancer sufferer Gareth Jones is one of those people. Given three months to live last October, he’s survived eight months so far on self-medication with cannabis, and he wants a law change in New Zealand.

Mr Jones is breaking the law, processing cannabis – a fairly large quantity of the illegal plant – and making it into oil.

“Anyone can make it,” he says.

Mr Jones is not a drug dealer; he’s dying. He has advanced bowel cancer that’s spread to his liver, and all up he’s battling four large tumours. He says cannabis is his last resort.

Two years ago Mr Jones and his wife, Tash, discovered the cruel medical reason behind his chronic exhaustion.   Read more »

Imagine the outcry if these incidents happened at a Charter School?

The Labour party and teacher unions always bang on about teacher registration being vitally important for the safety of children. It is the major reason they oppose charter schools.

If a single teacher at a charter school has problems they are immediately calling for the cancellation of the programme.

But when, almost daily, ratbag teachers are hauled before the disciplinary tribunal or the courts there is total and utter silence.

Even drug dealing ratbag teachers and principals.

A Northland school teacher has been censured and deregistered after he was convicted for cultivating, possessing and supplying cannabis.

Mario Cachia, 49, was sentenced to 10 months’ home detention for possessing cannabis for the purpose of sale, selling cannabis and cultivating cannabis.

He had pleaded guilty when he appeared in Whangarei District Court in November.

The New Zealand Teachers’ Disciplinary Tribunal has now deregistered him after Cachia agreed his convictions were serious and warranted an adverse finding. Cachia is among seven teachers in Northland who were convicted of offences such as drugs and dishonesty in 2014.

Read more »

Herald Editorial lashes Peter Dunne

Ok, sure it is the Herald, but their points are valid as they call out Peter Dunne over his medical marijuana stance.

Understandably enough, the Renton family have been doing all they can to get the best possible treatment for their teenage son, Alex, who is in an induced coma in Wellington Hospital.

After more than 20 standard medications failed to cure his ongoing seizures, they set their sights on a cannabis-derived medication, Elixinol. Protests staged by the family and their supporters to try to get the Government to approve its use gained widespread media coverage. Finally, this week, they got their wish.   Read more »

Canada legalises Medical Marijuana

Canada’s Supreme Court has legalised medical marijuana in all forms.

Medical marijuana patients will now be able to consume marijuana — and not just smoke it — as well as use other extracts and derivatives, the Supreme Court of Canada ruled today.

The unanimous ruling against the federal government expands the definition of medical marijuana beyond the “dried” form.

The country’s highest court found the current restriction to dried marijuana violates the right to liberty and security “in a manner that is arbitrary and hence is not in accord with the principles of fundamental justice.”

Restricting medical access to marijuana to a dried form has now been declared “null and void” — Sections 4 and 5 of the Controlled Drug and Substances Act, which prohibits possession and trafficking of non-dried forms of cannabis, will no longer be in effect.

The respondent in this case, Owen Smith, called it “a very emotional day.”   Read more »