Two years and still no medicinal cannabis

A Member’s Bill that would make New Zealand’s medicinal cannabis scheme more affordable and more accessible to those that need it has been voted down by the Labour Government.

“National first announced this legislation in 2018 and encouraged the Government to pick up the enormous amount of work we had done to ensure New Zealand in need could access high quality medicinal cannabis products sooner rather than later," National's Health spokesperson Dr Shane Reti says.

“But Labour wasn’t interested.

“This Bill is a more comprehensive alternative to the Government’s medicinal cannabis legislation. National warned the Government that if it increased access and left it to officials to think through the controls and regulations later, there would be consequences,” Dr Reti says.

As a result, the Government’s regulations now include those convicted for murder and still in prison eligible to apply for a medicinal cannabis manufacturing licence; for active gang members to be employed in the manufacturing of medicinal cannabis; and allows cannabis to be grown near sensitive areas such as wāhi tapu and schools.

National on the other hand put forward a comprehensive alternative that made sure New Zealanders had greater access to high quality medicinal cannabis products but also had the right regulatory and legislative controls in place.

“Our legislation provided safe, best practice mechanisms for rapidly accelerating the availability of medicinal cannabis products and for a dispensing and monitoring framework that would stand the test of time,” Dr Reti says.

“Labour has wasted two years figuring out its own regulations and how to comply with them, while this sensible and comprehensive Bill sat languishing in the ballot.

“All the Government had to do was adopt National’s Bill, but it put petty politics before easing the suffering of New Zealanders and that is a real shame.

“Despite this, the National Party remains willing to work constructively towards the goal of affordable and accessible medicinal cannabis to ease the suffering of New Zealanders.”