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Budget surplus means quicker access to medicinal cannabis

By   /  October 13, 2018  /  5 Comments

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News that the Government’s books are better off, to the tune of several billion dollars, means access to medicinal cannabis can now be made quicker.

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News that the Government’s books are better off, to the tune of several billion dollars, means access to medicinal cannabis can now be made quicker.

Labour promised it would introduce legislation to make medicinal cannabis legal within their first 100 days of forming a government. They did that – successfully! – but then took their foot off the gas.

Patients have been left wondering what is happening and why, almost a year later, they are still waiting for improved access.

It all comes down to resourcing.

There was nothing in this year’s budget for advancing medicinal cannabis – surprising given it was one of only two health-related lines in the Coalition agreement – and that’s meant officials have had to advance the bill within existing resource constraints.

Every time there is a change or amendment, no matter how small, the process starts again. Within existing resource constraints.

When the Health committee reported back in July, the medicinal cannabis bill was expected to be law by November. Now, having apparently agreed to some changes, it’s due to become law next March. Those pesky resource constraints again.

This is simply not good enough.

Not good enough for the patients who are suffering – especially those terminal patients who will not survive to see this Bill become law.

Not good enough for the local industry, which needs to immediately start producing at the scale needed to compete internationally and bring down prices so we can make a meaningful difference to New Zealand patients.

And not good enough for a Government sitting on billions of dollars in surplus while officials struggle to complete their workload.

This could all be fixed, this side of Christmas, by allocating a very small portion of that multi-billion dollar surplus.

While throwing a hundred people at it still wouldn’t make the scheme ready overnight, just a few strategic hires could be all we need.

I’d go for someone who has implemented similar schemes overseas, and a few experienced consultants to rapidly bridge knowledge gaps and provide regulators, policy makers and MPs assurance their scheme will deliver the benefits New Zealanders expect.

Chris Fowlie is the CEO of Zeacann Limited, a medicinal cannabis producer; co-founder of the New Zealand Medical Cannabis Council; president of the National Organisation for the Reform of Marijuana Laws NZ Inc; co-founder of The Hempstore Aotearoa; co-host of Marijuana Media on 95bFM; and court-recognised expert witness for cannabis.

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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.


  1. Dave Brown says:

    Chris, what ‘success’ measure are you using?

    I read the same situation as 100% sellout until I see a Bill that at least meets the basic demands of NORML.

    At the moment we see both major parties engaged in a ridiculous spat about whose pathetic reforms are best for making profits. Nothing to do with the needs of patients.

    The Coalition is not delaying for lack of money, it is following the lead of the MOH which still thinks that Cannabis ‘contributes’ to 32 deaths a year.

    So its trying to get a consensus with the opposition that Medical Cannabis has to be controlled by big investors (including big booze) while the self-growers still get criminalised. As happened in Aussie.

    Anyway Robertson has already put that surplus into kitty so he can bail out his mates in the banks when the next depression hits us.

    And if some of the surplus does get shared around, it should be on public health, education, housing and welfare, and not to subsidise those who want to profit from Cannabis.

    • Geoff Lye says:

      Considering there are 108 unfunded medicines waiting to be funded and 35 of those medicines are used by 235,000 people and some of those 108 medicines have been waiting 14 years for funding I think THEY HAVE PRIORITY over Medicinal Cannabis.

  2. Rickoshay says:

    what did you all expect it should be obvious bye now that this government is just as bad as the last government, read just as corrupt, but the back lash is coming from those who will do more than talk

  3. Mark says:

    I was told once that documents exist from a lobby group representing the pharma, booze and tobacco industry are paying all political parties to say no to cannabis. Now I can neither confirm nor deny that this information is true because I haven’t seen the documents nor were they offered, it could be a well spun story but if its true? Then what?
    I really feel like they are just continuing playing with us like they have for the past 20 years and now we have Peter Dunne trying to act like an expert, even got himself a nice fat Chair position for the Advisory Board of Setek Therapeutics and now hes being given lots of airtime giving his opinion. I obtained the license form from the MoH, its purely aimed at corporates and you basically need to build Fort Knox to meet their security requirements, clinical trials and corporate bodies get mentioned, I can see where this is headed.

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