Two former New Zealand police officers who went under cover filming how easy it is to buy medicinal marijuana in California warn this country needs to proceed with absolute caution if it’s to legalise medicinal marijuana.
Kirk Hardy and his colleague Glenn Dobson run a workplace drug testing programme and say nothing would be better for their business than if cannabis laws were relaxed in New Zealand.
But they say New Zealanders have no idea that one of the world’s best known models for medicinal marijuana in California is rife with abuse.
“It’s only when you start peeling back the layers and having a look at it, that you see it for what it is. It’s farcical,” said Mr Hardy, chief executive of The Drug Detection Agency.
At a clinic in San Francisco, a receptionist took Mr Dobson’s name, hotel address and driver’s license, and listed any ailments and current medication.
He had his blood pressure checked, paid money and told a doctor via an iPad, he had “recently started to get slightly more frequent headaches” and was finding it “a bit difficult to get to sleep”.
After Mr Dobson told the doctor marijuana had “definitely” been helpful for those symptoms, the doctor recommended morning exercise and plenty of liquids, the cannabis recommendation a mere formality in the under-two-minute consultation.
Keith Graves, a US drug education consultant, says the medicinal marijuana system is an embarrassment.
“The people who were trying to get this law back in 1996 were trying to sell it as a way to help people who were truly sick. But anybody can go to a doctor and get a recommendation for any health condition,” he said.
Mr Hardy and Mr Dobson say they have absolute sympathy for the terminally ill who need pain relief, but if New Zealand is to proceed with relaxing marijuana law, it needs to proceed with absolute caution.