Today the Prime Minister could not rule out serious offenders being able to hold a licence to manufacture and grow cannabis under this Government’s medicinal cannabis scheme, National’s Drug Reform spokesperson Paula Bennett says.

“While the Prime Minister was unable to answer questions today on her Government’s policy, National has the detail because we’ve read the consultation proposal.

“Active gang members, people currently addicted to drugs, those in rehabilitation for drug issues, serious offenders, and even people currently in prison, can have a licence to manufacture cannabis under the Government’s medicinal cannabis scheme, so long as all other licence holder criteria are met.

“Health Minister David Clark may think gang members will be able to contribute their skills to society, in other words, they know how to grow cannabis, but most New Zealanders will see this as just another opportunity to put our communities at risk.

“The Prime Minister says this is just a consultation proposal and these details will be hammered out, but the Government should’ve done the work in the first place and made sure convicted criminals and those people addicted to drugs can’t hold a license to cultivate.

“The Government has only just released a consultation proposal on its medicinal cannabis policy, despite passing the Bill last year. It’s clear it rushed the process as we’re seeing major holes in the Government’s scheme.

“In contrast, National’s Medicinal Cannabis Bill is comprehensive and has been well researched. It doesn’t allow those convicted of a serious offence to become a licensee and it doesn’t allow a licence to be granted if you are currently addicted to drugs.

“This is another example of a Government that’s been lazy in developing its policy, couldn’t swallow its pride and pick National’s Bill up, and is now left with a scheme full of holes.”

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