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Today the Government has decriminalised marijuana by stealth with the passing of its medicinal cannabis scheme despite National having a comprehensive plan to create a sensible regime right now, National’s associate Health spokesperson Shane Reti says.

“The Government’s Misuse of Drugs (Medicinal Cannabis) Amendment Bill which has passed today allows the smoking of loose leaf cannabis in public and does not provide the details or framework for a permanent medicinal cannabis scheme.

“This is lazy and dangerous – this Government is simply ticking the 100-day box that they were forced to by the Greens and it is permitting the smoking of drugs in our communities.

“We support medicinal cannabis but strongly oppose the smoking of loose leaf cannabis in public. Smoked loose leaf is not a medicine.

“That’s why we did the work and created a comprehensive medicinal cannabis regime that widened access to medicinal cannabis and provided a framework for licensing high-quality domestic production under sensible and achievable regulations.

“We offered to share our regime with the Government but egos got in the way and we were turned down. Now the Government has created a situation where it will essentially be legal to smoke loose leaf in public. The upcoming referendum is the place for a cannabis legalisation discussion, not this amendment Bill.

“If our police weren’t already on the receiving end of the Government’s soft on crime attitude and the cuts to regional police stations it now has to deal with the shambolic mixed messaging from this law.

“Our regime was created using international advice and is backed by national and international stakeholders and local industry. Health professionals should decide what medical conditions are suitable for medical cannabis and not politicians like in this Bill.

“A survey released last week showed that 72 per cent of adults think that doctors should decide, on a patient by patient basis, who should access medicinal cannabis products and that 73 per cent think that it should be treated the same as any other medicine.

“Instead the Government’s given none of this any thought and it’s sneaking through the decriminalisation of marijuana without any care for the consequences.”

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