Parliament continues cannabis hearings as J Day approaches


It’s another big week for cannabis law reform. Parliament resumes hearings on the Government’s Medicinal Cannabis Bill on Monday, Wednesday and Thursday, in the lead up to the 27th Annual J Day on Saturday 5th May.

Here’s NORML’s media release on Monday’s hearings:

Medicinal cannabis patients and caregivers will be descending on Parliament in large numbers on Monday 30 April to give their testimonies at the Health Select Committee.

Hearings on the government’s Medicinal Cannabis Amendment Bill attracted a reported 2000 submissions, due to widespread discontent with the weakness of the proposed law.

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Large numbers of patients have confessed to illegal activity in their submissions, creating a tense situation when the Select Committee recently invited patients to retract these testimonies, lest they face police action.

“Courage is contagious,” said Rebecca Reider, patient advocate and NORML board member. “We know we have to stand up for ourselves and come forward – but with patients and suppliers still being prosecuted, it’s incredibly risky. The stakes are high, because the current formulation of the bill would leave most medicinal cannabis users as criminals for at least some years to come.”

The bill currently offers immediate amnesty only to terminally ill patients in the last year of life.

Numerous medicinal cannabis patients will be coming out publicly for the first time at the hearings to tell their stories and request changes to the bill.

Many patients have been upset by the way the submission process is being handled. Numerous disabled patients have been unable to attend the hearings because the Select Committee elected not to travel. Moreover, the committee is splitting into two small groups in order to squeeze almost all individual submitters into a single day, with only five-minute slots allocated.

“This is our health at stake,” Reider said. “And they’re treating the hearing like a speed-dating session.”

Media are encouraged to attend the hearings, which will take place at Parliament all day Monday. NORML can connect media with patients, caregivers and doctors with particular stories to tell.

Health select committee hearings for submissions from organisations will continue on Wednesday and Thursday.

I’ll be presenting on Wednesday for PharmaCann New Zealand, a cannabis firm I have co-founded. We are applying for licences to research and produce natural, affordable, and tested cannabis-based products right here in New Zealand.

For many patients the main problems are product affordability and a difficult, drawn-out, prescription process. PharmaCann aims to tackle both, with a range of locally-made and affordable products, and an online portal for prescribers and pharmacists to make the process straightforward.

I will be strongly advocating to allow herbal, food-grade, products as well as pharmaceutical cannabis-based products, and to widen the proposed exemption to allow all patients with chronic or debilitating conditions to provide for themselves if that works best for them.

Then this coming Saturday 5th May, NORML presents the 27th annual J Day!

J Day is our national day of action for cannabis reform, held all around the world on the first Saturday in May every year.

One in twenty New Zealanders use cannabis medicinally – in Auckland alone that’s more than 75,000 people. J Day is where our diverse community including patients and caregivers can meet, share experiences, and learn more about cannabis and its associated culture.

There are free events happening all over New Zealand:

  • Whangarei – Pohe Island
  • Auckland – Albert Park
  • Hastings – ANZAC/Library
  • Taupo – The Black Shed
  • Wellington – Frank Kitts Park
  • Christchurch – Latimer Square
  • Dunedin – The Octagon (after-party at Whakamana cannabis museum)

In Auckland there will be performances from Yoko-Zuna, SWIDT, Melodownz and DJs on the mightly JAFA Mafia sound system, plus a bunch of informative speakers, market stalls, food trucks and information booths.

With all the talk about medicinal cannabis, come and check it out and maybe learn something new!

  • All J Day events are free, from high noon to 4:20pm, and R18. Please bring a donation, and your buddies. No glass, alcohol or dogs. Check out J Day on norml’s website, eventfinder or facebook.