Hi! Welcome to the 20th edition of The Kush, our newsletter written specifically for Mondays and Tuesdays. If you’re reading this for the first time, then welcome. It’s another Tuesday; the 13th of October has dawned wet and cold in Bengaluru, and aren’t we getting in the groove for another work day? Oh yes, we’re blazing ourselves silly over the fascinating narratives playing across the world of ours today, narratives that will impact all of us and help us understand our own lives.
Let’s start blazing again.
We’re Blazing for New Zealand’s Doctors and Public Health Experts
More than one million New Zealanders have already cast their votes, as New Zealand hosts the world’s first ever public referendum as to whether to legalize recreational use of cannabis or not. And literally a week before the votes are counted, the New Zealand Medical Association has come into the picture anew. Medical cannabis is already legal in New Zealand. However, since many recreational users of cannabis also swear by cannabis’ medicinal benefits with regards to sleep and stress alleviation (safer than alcohol or tobacco), and the role that cannabis’ compounds play in the human endo-cannabinoid system, doctors and health experts want to weigh in on this one.
Quoting from RNZ:
“The New Zealand Medical Association has backtracked on its stance opposing the cannabis referendum, and apologised to doctors who feel they were misrepresented. It now says it is not taking a position on the referendum. The change in stance comes after doctors approached RNZ unhappy with the New Zealand Medical Association (NZMA) stance, saying it did not consult with members.”
This was to be expected. In 1937 as well, back in the United States, the American Medical Association’s progressive stance on cannabis was ignored, meaning that science and economic logic were ignored in favour of prohibitions and arrests, a policy that has horribly failed and is failing all over the world as of this writing. Quite simply, a policy of openness is better than a policy of prohibition.
Quoting from Guardian:
“Last week Dr Kate Baddock, chair of the NZMA board, explained its support for a no vote. “Our position on cannabis has been around the harms of cannabis,” Dr Baddock said. “It’s been there since 2012. It’s been reiterated a few times over that time, and this is a board and organisational position – it’s got nothing to do with me personally.” The association’s position prompted at least one doctor to quit, and others to complain, demanding the organisation conduct a poll on the issue among members.”
From one of New Zealand’s public health experts:
“Prof Michael Baker from the University of Otago, one of the key architects of the country’s successful Covid-19 response, says New Zealand had shown it was a world leader in utilising “innovative and evidence-informed approaches” to complex public health problems. “It’s time to take the same fresh approach to cannabis law and put public health first,” Prof Baker says. “Our prohibition model for cannabis is outdated and doesn’t work. Supporting law reform is about reframing cannabis use as a health issue which opens up new, more effective ways of minimising harms caused by this drug.”
It stands to reason that the NZMA hasn’t put its stance to ‘positive’, possibly to account for the doctor members who are conservative and want to keep the status quo on recreational cannabis, having seen more than enough progress with medical use of cannabis. We think it’s fair. As the days go by, our prediction for New Zealand still remains the same: a very very narrow yes for legalization. Hope we’re right. We’ll update our prediction as more news keeps coming in and write about the same in our newsletters.
Let’s keep blazing.
The Countdown To December Has Begun. We’re 60 odd days away.
The 1961 Single Convention on Narcotic Substances is the international agreement at the United Nations level that is the basis of the narcotic laws formulated and executed by countries all over the world. Yes, while the push came from the United States’ regulators about the harms of recreational substances like cocaine, heroin, LSD, MDMA and cannabis, including other synthetic drug variants, the fact remains that the environment of the 1960s did not have the research temperament to study plants like cannabis in an effective manner, and whatever arguments were put forth by doctors and public health experts about medical cannabis, they were drowned out by ‘concerned’ officials calling for a ‘drug-free’ world.
In a real world, a drug-free world is impossible. Deal with it.
We’ve explained why in our older newsletters. Ideals like a ‘drug-free’ world violates the basic principles of human behaviour and economics. Not only have humans been experimenting with drugs for thousands of years, we will continue to do so for the foreseeable future. Please deal with it. People having an issue with this view can put forth their arguments and we will counter back with logic and economic principles.
In 2019, the World Health Organization recommended the United Nations’ Commission on Narcotic Drugs to remove cannabis from Schedule IV, which says that cannabis does not have any medical value, and place it in Schedule I, which would give countries the encouragement to formulate their own medical cannabis programs as per the requirements of their own countries’ people.
The vote is going to happen in December, 2020.
Let’s keep blazing.
Our Prediction For December: It’s a Yes. India? Not Sure.
There are 53 members in the Commission of Narcotic Drugs group which will vote yes or no to the rescheduling of cannabis from Schedule IV, the most stringent category reserved for cocaine and heroin. 1 Member is the entire European Union which contains 55 member countries. But we’re sure the EU officials will say yes because many EU countries are running pilot medical cannabis programs including Germany, France and England. So no issues there.
The United States will definitely say yes. As per Marijuana Moment:
“The status or stigma of being in Schedule IV did not prevent the dramatic escalation of cannabis use,” she acknowledged. “And it is unlikely that removing it will lead to any increase. On the contrary, to those who are skeptical of warnings that cannabis abuse can be harmful—and here we know that youth are particularly at risk—keeping cannabis and cannabis resin in Schedule IV despite scientific evidence will signal that the commission is tone deaf and out of touch.”
She, above, refers to Pratt Prugh, attorney advisor to the United States Government.
“They will ask, why? Why do we need a Commission on Narcotic Drugs? Why do we need a scheduling process if all they do is make drugs even less accessible to those in pain and suffering?” she said, adding that the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) approval of the CBD-derived medication Epidiolex and other synthetic cannabinoids demonstrates the “newfound therapeutic usefulness” of marijuana, which “warrants the removal of cannabis from Schedule IV.”
We’re not sure about India. In next week’s newsletter we’ll try to find out more. But a yes will put 2020 to an end, and bring 2021 with a renewed sense of hope for us. But we have a feeling India will also vote yes. Because in addition to cannabis’ historical relationship in India, India’s Home Ministry has anyway constituted a committee to reform the Narcotics Act of 1985 which is likely to be about cannabis reform.
Let’s keep blazing.
Have a great day 🙂