It's hard to imagine prissy Peter Dunne with shoulder length hair sucking on a doobie.

But as a uni student in the 70s, that's what he did - but says he didn't like it very much, even though unlike Bill Clinton he claims he did the drawback.

But in those days the wicked weed had little more effect than a Craven A tailor-made, such was the level of THC. If his memory is based on skipping the light fantastic in his student days then there's little wonder why he reckons the prescription of medicinal marijuana should be left to the experts whose primary concern is to look look after our health.

Perhaps he'd understand the plight of those, like the recently retired trade union leader Helen Kelly who is dying of cancer, if he had a toke of the current New Zealand green crop. It's working for her, well at least it's providing the best pain relief that she knows of.

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Kelly tried to go through the process that Dunne's advocating and became frustrated with it, describing it as complicated and intrusive. She, just like many others, are now getting their daily fix on the black market. Kelly has been forced to break the law, although thankfully she's unlikely to ever be held to account.

The point should be if you're dying then you should be free to access the drug of your choice. The State shouldn't be dictating what's best for you, the choice should be yours and yours alone to make.

But what have we got instead? Dunne instructing his mandarins to consult with a range of specialists and the Medical Association to determine whether the current guidelines for getting access to marijuana are still fit for purpose. Overwhelmingly they said they were.

A young Peter Dunne.
A young Peter Dunne.

Dunne's sticking to his guns, saying the greatest therapeutic benefits, and the dosage and delivery mechanisms will only come through a robust, scientific approach.

Otherwise, he says, they're flying blind and hoping for the best - an approach that flies in the face of evidence-based medicines policy.

By releasing the feedback, the minister with the power over puffing, says he hopes it'll go some way to balancing out the irresponsible and ill-informed messages being passed off as fact, and to provide a degree of reassurance to those genuinely looking for respite to significant health issues.

The proof of the pudding is in the baking. Just ask Helen Kelly.

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