July 27, 2016

Tom O’ConnorTom O’Connor

Now that the shouting and humbug surrounding the recent call to legalise medical cannabis has died down we can examine the issue in some detail.

First and most importantly it was quite in order for the Otamatea Association to call for the legalisation of medical cannabis. However, as the Grey Power Federation, as the representative national body of all a Grey Power Associations, did not have a formal policy on the matter we were not able to give public support to the idea.

I got involved when a political party seemed to be attempting to hijack the Otamatea initiative to push for the legalisation of so called recreational cannabis, which is a very different issue to medical cannabis. The last thing I want is for associations to be used by outside groups to further their own campaigns. I was a bit aggressive in that and make no apology for protecting the Grey Power credibility. Pot smokers and other social misfit groups can run their own campaigns and they interfere in ours at their peril.

That is not to say medical cannabis is not a worthwhile issue to get involved but simply that, as president, I cannot make policy decisions on my own or at a moment’s notice. I have therefore invited Otamatea Association to present a formal remit on medical cannabis for the board to consider.

That raises another important issue which seems to have been overlooked in recent times. It is not always necessary to wait for the AGM to present remits to the board. If an issue falls broadly within the bounds of established policy the board can make an immediate decision to get involved, coordinate a national response or give an association sound advice on how to proceed and in some cases not to proceed. If an issue is dramatically different to established policy the board can refer it to associations by email for an immediate response or the next AGM for the membership to decide but many remits can be, and should be decided as soon as the boards can consider them.

It is not the board’s role or intention to restrict what associations do only to ensure established policies are supported and board political lobbying is not jeopardised by association activities. All it requires is for associations to let us know when they are getting into issued which are potentially of national importance.

Tom O'Connor
Former National President
Grey Power Federation

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