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Documents released to National show the Government is years away from enabling increased access to medicinal cannabis despite the potential for it to be available in around 12 months under National’s Bill, National’s Associate Health spokesperson Dr Shane Reti says.

“New Zealanders will have to continue suffering for around two more years without access to medicinal cannabis because the Government won’t swallow its pride and adopt our Bill.

“A document showing the timeline for medicinal cannabis under the Government’s current programme shows the regulatory scheme has a ‘go live’ date of mid-2020, almost two years away.

“And this is just for the required regulations. It is highly unlikely that dispensing would begin at that point and it would almost certainly be much later. This is unacceptable.

“National has done the work the Government refused to and put forward a comprehensive medicinal cannabis regime to enable greater access to high quality medicinal cannabis products to ease New Zealanders suffering.

“In the past three months National has written to all organisations that presented to the select committee, personally meet with industry players and has met regularly with legal counsel to continue progress on the Bill. What consultation or results can the Government and an army of officials show?

“If National’s Bill was immediately pursued New Zealander’s with chronic health issues could be prescribed and receive medicinal cannabis products next year.

“Unfortunately, this Government won’t commit to pursuing our Bill and the Ministry of Health’s own timeline shows they won’t even start considering regulations until March next year. The current best case go-live date of mid-late 2020 is not good enough.

“The Government needs to adopt National’s Bill which would make medicinal cannabis products available to New Zealanders who need them with an appropriate regime in place in a fraction of the time of their current plan.”

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