Ministry of Health accused of ignoring evidence of cannabis benefits

Long Lunch 29/06/2018
Photo: Getty.

A medical educator has accused the Ministry of Health of suppressing evidence that shows cannabis is actually good for us.

Tadhg Stopford, founder of The Hemp Foundation, told RadioLIVE that the Ministry of Health is only one of many contradictions the world has on cannabis use.

It all comes down to money, and greed, and politicians just shafting the people.

With the UK producing over 40 percent of the world’s legal cannabis in 2016, Mr Stopford argues its contradictory to keep it illegal for British citizens.

“It all comes down to money, and greed, and politicians just shafting the people,” he told RadioLIVE.

However, according to BBC, the UK doesn’t export any cannabis in raw form and is primarily exported as the drug Sativex, which is licensed to treat muscle stiffness and spasms in people with multiple sclerosis.

Mr Stopford has lost two teaching jobs in the past year, which he attributes to his strong views towards cannabis reform.

“It’s not dangerous. There are some harms that are associated with it.”

He believes the Ministry of Health wants to take an evidence-based approach to cannabis in New Zealand because they can “pick and choose the evidence”.

“The evidence they are picking excludes their own reports. It excludes what’s happening around the world. They’re just picking and choosing the evidence that suits their case.”

Mr Stopford is referring to a 2008 report titled “Cannabis Therapeutics” by Martin Woodbridge. The report suggested that cannabis-based medicines could help with Multiple Sclerosis, pain management, cancer and AIDS related anorexia.

The Ministry of Health confirmed that the report’s author is a former MoH employee who continues to undertake research on potentially therapeutic properties of cannabis. As part of his research, Mr Woodbridge attended a forum in 2008 on cannabinoids and subsequently provided a summary of discussions which occurred there.

According to a MoH spokesperson, the Ministry received his summary of this forum.

“In considering and shaping policy, the Ministry considers the totality of published peer-reviewed evidence with a particular focus on comparative clinical trials of cannabinoids and pharmaceuticals in the treatment of medical conditions. Several international reviews of the evidence have been published over the past five years including the USA National Academy of sciences, the US Institute of Medicine, the United Kingdom House of Lords Select Committee report, and the NSW Working Party report on medicinal cannabis.

“These reports inform and align with the Ministry of Health position on the clinical trial evidence supporting the use of medicinal cannabis,” the spokesperson told RadioLIVE.

Mr Stopford believes the MoH’s evidence-based policies are ignoring key evidence both in New Zealand and from around the world.

Mr Stopford says evidence shows cannabis has benefits.

“Cannabis is literally the most studied chemical compound in the world, really. And yet they keep on missing this stuff and suppressing their own reports.”

He told RadioLIVE that the MoH has never used the “Cannabis Therapeutics” report, and continue to ignore it today. 

Listen to the full interview with Tadgh Stopford above. 

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