The Government’s medicinal cannabis bill is back before parliament, and we’re urging MPs to do what’s best for patients, not politics.

By   /   July 25, 2018  /   11 Comments

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MPs need to work together now to fix the proposed legislation and give patients urgent protection. While they squabble patients are still getting busted, or dying without medicine.

The latest shenanigans over medicinal cannabis follow a Curia poll, released this week by the New Zealand Drug Foundation, which found increased support for all options, including 87 per cent support for allowing medicinal cannabis for chronic pain relief.

The message MPs should take from this poll is: Don’t panic, and do what is best for patients.

After hearing from hundreds of patients and caregivers, as well as medical groups and patient advocates, the Health Select Committee reports back today on possible changes to the Misuse of Drugs (Medicinal Cannabis) Amendment Bill.

The bill creates an exemption for terminally ill people to obtain and use cannabis, removes cannabidiol (CBD) from the Misuse of Drugs Act, and allows new standards for cultivating, manufacturing and distributing medicinal cannabis products.

Submissions were overwhelmingly in favour of allowing medicinal cannabis use for chronic pain, and for locally-made products to be more affordable and widely available.

The bill passed the first reading unanimously. National MPs told parliament they saw the bill as “a tentative step in the right direction” and that they would work with Government MPs to “provide greater access.”

It now seems the National Party intends to withdraw their support for the bill, and introduce a private member’s bill in the name of Shane Reti. National leader Simon Bridges told NewstalkZB:

“National supports greater access to high quality medicinal cannabis products to ease people’s suffering but we must have the right regulatory and legislative controls in place.

“Among other things, our bill is going to make clear who can buy medicinal cannabis, who can sell it, and exactly how that will work.”

However, there is no guarantee their new bill will ever be heard by parliament, as it may never be drawn from the ballot.

To be clear: it is great National are now competing to have the best law.

This represents a massive shift from just a year ago, when National were dragged kicking and screaming – by Peter Dunne of all people – into accepting only minor changes in response to public demands for medicinal cannabis law reform.

And it’s possible the changes now being mooted by National will be even better than the Government’s bill.

But we need to keep the focus on patients, and that means no more delays.

MPs need to work together now to fix the proposed legislation and give patients urgent protection. While they squabble patients are still getting busted, or dying without medicine.

The latest shenanigans over medicinal cannabis follow a Curia poll, released this week by the New Zealand Drug Foundation, which found increased support for all options, including 87 per cent support for allowing medicinal cannabis for chronic pain relief.

The message MPs should take from this poll is: Don’t panic, and do what is best for patients.

Patients, caregivers and advocates will send their own message to MPs on Saturday 4th August. Auckland Patients Group and NORML are organising “Pots for Patients”, a rally supporting medicinal cannabis law reform, at 2pm on Queen Street (opposite Aotea Square). I’ll be there, and you should too.

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About the author

Chris Fowlie

Former editor of NORML News, Chris Fowlie is president of the National Organisation for the Reform of Marijuana Laws, manager of The Hempstore, and court-recognised expert witness for serious cannabis charges.

11 Comments

  1. Mike the Lefty says:

    Now we see the conservative reactionary arm of the National Party flexing its muscles.
    I always thought in the back of my mind that National were really only pretending to go along with cannabis reform and this proves it.
    National are scared s…less that any public perception that they are soft on drugs (and lets face it, cannabis IS a drug) will hurt them politically so they will always take the safe option.
    Interestingly enough, Jacinda Adern has in the past voiced support for moderate reform, even some decriminalisation, but is she became PM didn’t she? So much for the doomsayers who boomed out how she had just killed her political career.
    I have a feeling that not much will be gained with new legislation and probably the best reformers can hope for is improved access for medicinal marijuana and perhaps more scope for the hemp growth industry.

  2. J S Bark J S Bark says:

    I agree, but since when have politicians ever made a decision that’s best for people and not politics?

  3. The Masked Moa says:

    Labours lipstick facade has worn off leaving both them and the Greens looking rather naked and exposed. The new Emperors have no new clothes.

    • CLEANGREEN says:

      “When in opposition you can say anything you like, but when in Government you are watched with every word you speak”.

      Quoted; from a speech given at the Napier Greypower General Meeting May/June 2018 by a Government Minister.

    • esoteric pineapples says:

      I can’t see why the Greens are looking naked given they are the only party who want to see cannabis legalised.

  4. Darien Fenton says:

    Yeah late into the piece, with polls in favour of changes comes charge Simon Bridges, knowing his bill will have no impact and it has to be drawn from the biscuit tin. Far more constructive would be Nats, with their new found liberalism, offering to work together with all parliamentary parties to make the bill work. It’s time.

  5. Rickoshay says:

    The Nats see the financial windfall but are to gutless to enact the required legislation, Labour is awaiting permission from crooked Hillary and the Dems to compete with the US in drug production.
    Bye the way The wording on the misuse of drugs act says that cannabis has no medical value… obviously wrong, provable in court? Time for the government to drop that legislation immediately.
    50 years of crimes against our community’s is more than enough, knee Jerk reactionary’s fed bye misinformation and blatant media hysteria and propaganda, theres a lot to answer for and blaming the pot heads has gotten as old as blaming the poor for economic problems brought about bye greed!!

  6. RosieLee says:

    Whatever they decide, it must be kept out of the hands of Big Pharma. There’s no point in legalising even medicinal use if people can’t afford the exorbitant costs currently being demanded.

  7. SPC says:

    National’s approach is in synch with dependence on the expensive products of Big Pharma.

    It is a barrier to cultivation of new (lower THC) crop varieties for the specialist medicinal marijuana market – much cheaper than the non smoked patented lab drug form.

    Once again National pandering to offshore interests rather than the development of local industry.

    Their approach would have it restricted to the middle class who can afford it, and or be limited by condition so Pharmac can afford to subsidise the high cost imports.

  8. esoteric pineapples says:

    “To be clear: it is great National are now competing to have the best law.”

    I don’t think they are competing to have the best law. They are trying to keep general cannabis illegal and only allow medical cannabis via pharmaceuticals. So in reality they are giving away almost nothing.

  9. Marc says:

    I don’t use cannabis anymore, it had bad effects on me, so I only use the ‘legal drug’ now, also harmful, but less so for me.

    I am all for medicinal use of cannabis, but I fear the discussion here is getting ridiculous.

    Allow those that want to use the drug, as long as they are at least 18 or say 21 years old, to use it, same as those are allowed to consume alcohol.

    It is a soft drug, it has maybe some negative effect on some people, especially the very young ones, but control and regulate it, and let it become legal like in Uruguay and Colorado, problem solved.

    And keep politicking about it, that turns people right off.


 
Authorised by Martyn Bradbury, The Editor, TheDailyBlog,