Cook Islanders invited to discuss Health Bill, medicinal cannabis access 

Cook Islands Health Secretary Bob Williams says it is important for the public to know and understand the Public Health Bill, set for public discussions starting today. 

A series of public consultations on the Narcotics and Misuse of Drugs Amendment Act 2023, Tobacco Products Control Amendment Bill 2023 and the Non-Communicable Diseases (NCD) Taskforce and reforms will be held this week, starting tonight. 

Speaking on the Narcotics Bill, Williams said: “It is important for the public and especially those who may be having health conditions that will require access to medicinal cannabis treatment to fully understand the requirements of the new law, and if they have families living abroad who are on these type of treatments what they need to do and what they have to bring on them to avoid detention upon arrival.” 

The Narcotics and Misuse of Drugs Amendment Bill was passed in Parliament in December last year allowing Cook Islanders who require medicinal cannabis for their health and well-being to import or bring the item into the country, provided the product is being prescribed by an overseas medical practitioner. 

Earlier this month, Cook Islands doctors went through a special training on prescribing medicinal cannabis (marijuana). 

Williams said: “A number of local doctors including private GP’s and one private business pharmacist have been trained on prescribing for a number of health conditions and dosage.” 

“Our plan is to retain the services of the Australian doctor who delivered the training for ongoing advice once the commencement to implement the Narcotics and Misuse of Drugs Amendment Act 2023 is confirmed by Executive Order.” 

The training programme with local doctors covered history of cannabis, endocannabinoid system physiology, plant biology and genetic strains, indications for treatment, contraindications, formulations, dosing and titration, patient education and how to select different strains to suit your patient.