Whangarei's Grey Power federation has voted to support a push by a fellow Northland federation to legalise medicinal cannabis and says it's not being naive in making the decision.
In April the Otamatea Grey Power federation put its weight behind the legalise medicinal marijuana movement, saying they want to have the choice of dying pain-free. Otamatea Grey Power president Beverley Aldridge, said she had grown tired of watching friends and family suffer serious illness, while the drugs they were given had side-effects as bad as the symptoms they were designed to treat. Medicinal marijuana, she believed, was the answer.
The move sparked a war of words between Grey Power national president Tom O'Connor and the Cannabis Party, with Mr O'Connor saying he was worried about "single issue" groups trying to capture "naive" Grey Power members to promote their cause.
Whangarei Grey Power president Jim Beniston said the group was not naive or easily led, as Mr O'Connor implied, and had plenty of experience between members to make up their own mind.
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Mr Beniston said Whangarei Grey Power's committee voted at its May meeting to support the Otamatea group to an extent - supporting legalising medicinal marijuana oil for pain relief under strict prescription control.
"But we don't, and won't, support legalising people growing cannabis for pain relief or legalising it for recreational use," he said.
At the group's June AGM, the motion was passed by a majority of voters and is now Whangarei Grey Power's stance on the issue. Mr Beniston said if the Otamatea group did not take a remit for the issue to be voted on at a national level, Whangarei Grey Power would.
"When Otamatea came out with their medicinal cannabis statement they were not being naive and had given it careful consideration. So we decided to put it on the agenda for our May meeting and we were far from being naive on the issue. The committee supported it so we took it to the AGM," Mr Beniston said.
"There were people [at the AGM] who were dead against it, but the majority voted for it and it was ratified and once such a decision is made everybody falls behind it, even if they did not vote for it.
"Grey Power members are not naive and this is an important issue, which is why we voted to make it cannabis oil only under a strict prescription regime. If the medical experts say it's okay to prescribe it then it should be, but we need to have that debate first."
Ms Aldridge said the Otamatea group would set up an online petition to legalise medicinal marijuana that it would then present to the Government.