Parliament to debate medicinal cannabis after Green Party MP's bill drawn

Campaigners have been calling for medicinal cannabis use to be legalised in New Zealand.
CATRIN OWEN/ FAIRFAX NA

Campaigners have been calling for medicinal cannabis use to be legalised in New Zealand.

A debate on whether to legalise medicinal cannabis for terminally ill Kiwis is headed for Parliament after a Green Party MP's bill was drawn from the ballot.

Julie Anne Genter's Misuse of Drugs (Medicinal Cannabis and Other Matters) Amendment Bill will make it legal for the terminally ill and those suffering a debilitating condition to use cannabis with the support of a doctor.

The bill was drawn on the same day as ACT leader David Seymour's End of Life Choice bill, which would legalise euthanasia.

Green Party MP Julie Anne Genter won the member's bill lottery on Thursday when her bill to get Kiwis access to ...
Green Party

Green Party MP Julie Anne Genter won the member's bill lottery on Thursday when her bill to get Kiwis access to medicinal cannabis was drawn from the ballot.

Genter said "no Kiwi should have to live in pain because of an archaic, uncompassionate law".

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"We are finally going to have the conversation about medicinal cannabis that New Zealanders have been crying out for."

Medicinal cannabis needed to be available by prescription from a doctor but also needed to be affordable, she said.

"Right now to access medicinal cannabis people have to spend over $1000 a month - most people can't afford that."

"I think this law change is sensible and overdue."

The drawing of the bill comes on the back of a loosening of rules around medicinal cannabis by Associate Health Minister Peter Dunne last week.

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The Government has removed restrictions meaning the Ministry of Health would no longer need to approve the use of cannabis product cannabidiol (CBD) for individual cases.

The change would come into effect in about two months, after Dunne had signed a new regulation.

CBD is a substance found in cannabis that had potential therapeutic value but little or no psychoactive properties.

Genter said the softening of the laws only went part of the way and didn't guarantee "medicinal cannabis products will be affordable for the average New Zealander".

"My Bill will ensure that sick people and those in pain will actually be able to afford the cannabis products they need.

"New Zealand can finally catch up to the much of the rest of the world on cannabis – now it's up to my colleagues across the aisle in Parliament," she said.

Dunne wouldn't be drawn on what way he would vote on the bill and said he hadn't had a "chance to look at it".

The National Party is yet to decide whether it will be a conscience vote.

Deputy Prime Minister Paula Bennett said it would be discussed at caucus and most National MPs spoken to on Thursday said they hadn't had a chance to look at the bill in detail.

Maori Party co-leader Marama Fox said the party supported medicinal cannabis and decriminalisation.

 - Stuff

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