We would legalise medicinal cannabis - Labour leader video

ROBERT KITCHIN/FAIRFAX NZ

Labour leader Andrew Little sits down with political editor Tracy Watkins and asks the big question on marijuana decriminalisation.

Labour will legislate for medicinal cannabis "pretty quickly" after taking office, leader Andrew Little has confirmed.

Little said cannabis products should be available to anyone suffering chronic pain or a terminal condition if their GP signed off on it.

Labour MP Damien O'Connor has drafted a bill for Parliament that would shift the onus of decision making on medicinal cannabis away from the minister to GPs and medical professionals.

Andrew Little - admits there have been mistakes.
CHRIS McKEEN/FAIRFAX NZ

Andrew Little - admits there have been mistakes.

Currently individual applications must first get ministerial approval for medicinal cannabis. The first Kiwi to do so was teenager Alex Renton who died shortly after approval was given.

READ MORE:
*Guidelines for medicinal cannabis applications are under review
*Medicinal cannabis rally held in Nelson by mother of late teen
*NZ's first medicinal cannabis charity fundraising for 10 patients 
*
edicinal cannabis likely in New Zealand by 2016 

 

In a wide ranging Facebook Live interview with Stuff on Wednesday, Little said Labour would pass O'Connor's law "pretty quickly" after the next election, should it win.

But on the wider issue of decriminalising cannabis, he wanted to see more evidence.

"I don't have a moral thing about recreational drugs...my own experience of dealing with it as an issue was when I was a union lawyer, when employers started to do drug and alcohol testing and I did a lot of work on that.

"The medical evidence that came back to me overwhelmingly was that a lot of the cannabis available in New Zealand had very high THC (mind altering substance tetrahydrocannabinol) levels. For brains that are still developing in their late teens and early 20s cannabis use even to a modest degree can still cause long term brain damage. So I'd want to know we are addressing that real risk to that issue."

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After a trough in the polls, Little believed Labour was bouncing back and said that was shown by the response to him out and about New Zealand. People were stopping him in the street, shaking hands and taking "selfies".

"There is a mood shift, there's a changing expectation."

But Little admitted that some of the party's problems stemmed from poor discipline.

"We've had difficulty getting cut through....I made the promise when I became leader we wouldn't bark at every passing car. And I kind of got to the beginning of this year and looked back at the last year and lo and behold, we barked at every passing car."

That was a mistake and one he bore responsibility for, Little said.

"I'm happy to admit to that."

*Comments have now closed on this story*

 - Stuff

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