MP’s to vote on cannabis re­form

Central Leader - - OUT & ABOUT - JO MOIR

‘‘This law change is sen­si­ble and over­due’’

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.

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

‘‘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.

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.

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