Supply Systems

 

cannabis-plant

The HEMP Party knows that Cannabis, in medical terms, is harmless.

It has no primary health issues associated with its use or abuse and it is simply impossible to overdose on it.

So, if we were to take into account only the actual dangers and harms associated with the use of Cannabis, then the appropriate level of regulation is no regulation.

However the HEMP Party fully understands the need for a pragmatic response that will be acceptable to the broader community.

We understand that public concerns have to be managed. However any move from the current position must not be backwards.

A permit system…

…is a flawed response. It simply acts to reinforce and supercharge the current BS ‘law and order’ response to medicinal Cannabis use.

Currently the main thing stopping medicinal Cannabis patients from accessing Cannabis is the fear that they will be charged and found guilty of using a dangerous drug.

So the simplest way of addressing this difficulty is to simply remove the criminal penalties attaching to the growing and use of Cannabis by this particular class of people.

So the issuing of a permit to allow certain patients to grow and consume Cannabis appears, on the face of it, to be an effective way of creating and managing this access.

However the experience in comparable overseas jurisdictions demonstrates that the introduction of such a permit system will likely lead to an increase in arrests for Cannabis use rather than a decrease, and will also likely see an increase in expenditure on Cannabis interdiction efforts generally.

In fact: Police forces around the world have greeted the introduction of medicinal Cannabis permits as a ‘green light’ to renewed efforts to bust anyone who is growing Cannabis without a permit or in contravention of the conditions stipulated on their permit.

Further, the permits will be issued for only a restricted range of ailments based on an entirely arbitrary criteria. Organising a priority of needs such as this is not only fraught with the potential to disaffect a huge number of sick people but will also promote the very strange public health situation where dangerous drugs of addiction will be far more readily available than will be medicinal Cannabis for people with quite a large range of relatively minor complaints.

In this manner, the potential for the introduction medicinal Cannabis laws to actually address the over-prescription of dangerous narcotics will be entirely obviated. As will any benefit of the proposed laws for the vast majority of those who seek to use medicinal Cannabis for less than life threatening ailments.

When looked at objectively a permit system always creates more problems than it solves as the introduction of such a system invariably leads to the need for ever finer arbitrary and irrational justifications and decisions to be made.

Such a system requires that a legislature be put in the invidious position of being forced to grade the attributes of the various angels reputed to be sitting on the head of a pin, according to moral precepts.

Such a system always makes politicians look dumb because it makes it essential that they constantly justify the indefensible.

A prescription system…

…shares all the faults of a permit system but in addition it also acts to disaffect many in the medical profession by forcing them to use an arbitrary scythe in undertaking medical assessments.

Remember that the only medical ‘harms’ associated with the use of medical Cannabis are entirely illusory, and most doctors (and other thinking professionals) simply acknowledge this as a fact.

So drawing any professional group into the fray and asking them to oversee or formulate gradations of ‘mythical harm’ will only cause disaffection within not only the broader public, but also within that particular profession: be it the police, the medical profession, the legislature, or the legal profession.

As long as the legislative response is focussed on grading mythical harms then this will always be the case. There is another approach.

A ‘medical needs defence’

As noted above; currently the main thing stopping medicinal Cannabis patients from accessing Cannabis is the fear that they will be charged and found guilty of using a dangerous drug.

So the simplest way of addressing this difficulty is to simply remove the criminal penalties attaching to the growing and use of Cannabis by this particular class of people.

This can be achieved in a minimalist and rationally coherent way by making slight amendments to the Drugs Misuse Act and providing directions to the courts and the Police.

The HEMP Party’s favoured proposition is that a ‘medical needs defence’ be inserted into the legislation as a complete defence regarding all charges relating to the possession, growing, supply and compounding of Cannabis for medical needs, then the interests of medicinal Cannabis patients and the public interest can be served simultaneously.

The ‘medical needs defence’ approach is designed as a rational response to the needs expressed by medicinal Cannabis patients.

This approach seeks to implement the intent of the legislature (allowing access to medicinal Cannabis to those with a demonstrable need) in a manner that also retains a degree of rational integrity as it shifts the focus from making a decision about the grading of different ailments to one of ‘demonstrating medical need’ or ‘not demonstrating medical need’.

This shift is significant – instead of making arbitrary judgements based on arbitrary criteria, now it becomes a simple matter of making a factual judgement based on evidence.

The introduction of a ‘medical needs defence’ allows each individual situation to be assessed on the basis of whether or not a medical needs defence can be established rather than on the arbitrary dictates of a professional body or a legislature.

More significantly, as the police will be the ones making the initial assessments, then there is a likelihood that we will see a different paradigm develop to that which seems to assert itself under a ‘permit system’.

Under a permit system those with minor ailments seem to be the most likely to be busted: under a medical needs defence system these same people will become known to the police and so will be largely, and rightfully, ignored.

Further, if our society has dictated that using Cannabis for medical purposes is acceptable, but not for recreational or commercial purposes, then it is the police who will always be the bunnies in the middle.

It is only reasonable that they be provided with a simple and workable set of criteria.

The medical needs defence proposition is appealing for police because it is fairly easy matter to discern whether or not someone is using Cannabis for medicinal purposes, and if there is any dispute then this can be readily referred to and adjudicated in the courts.

Most police do not want to go anywhere near a medical Cannabis patient but certainly do want to be able to bust someone who is making money off misery, whatever guise these parasites might be wearing. I think this also largely reflects the feelings of the vast majority of our society.

If we make the criteria for the legal use of medicinal Cannabis the ability to demonstrate a demonstrable medical need then it will act to take the heat out of policing medicinal Cannabis use.

The Police will, in effect, be seen as looking out for the interests of medical Cannabis patients rather than being put in the unenviable situation where they have to bust them.

James Moylan for HEMP

Share this page