A watered down Medical Cannabis bill?

It looks like Labour’s promise and Green’s hope of a medical cannabis bill is being watered down by NZ First, to the extent that Greens are keeping their Members’ Bill in the ballot.

Labour promised in Taking action in our first 100 days:

  • Introduce legislation to make medicinal cannabis available for people with terminal illnesses or in chronic pain

There are growing concerns about how far they will now go.

NZH: Bill to legalise medicinal cannabis introduced this week

Legislation to legalise medicinal cannabis will be introduced this week.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern confirmed the bill would be introduced this week during her post-Cabinet press conference today.

She declined to give details on the legislation, including who would be able to access cannabis and in what circumstances.

Ardern said the Green Party and NZ First had been involved during the development of the Government’s bill.

She indicated the Government bill would not go as far as the measures in Swarbrick’s private member’s bill, because it was necessary to put up something that NZ First would support.

“What we are producing is a bill that we know has the support of the House to get through,” Ardern said.

“We have undertaken that we would improve on the status quo. And we are doing that. And we can guarantee with the bill we have got we can do that. We can’t guarantee that with the member’s bill. There are differences, and you will see that when the bill is introduced.”

But the Greens are obviously not satisfied that it will go far enough.

Green Party leader James Shaw said the Greens would not withdraw the private member’s bill, called the Misuse of Drugs (Medicinal Cannabis and Other Matters) Amendment Bill.

“That will be in there as an option. But the good news is we know there is also a Government bill that has the numbers to pass the House. If we can also get the numbers for the other bill, then that is great.”

So it looks like NZ First is putting a spoke on the Medical Cannabis wheel.

This stays in the mix:

The Government legislation will be introduced as another private member’s bill, introduced by Green MP Julie Anne Genter but now in the name of her colleague Chloe Swarbrick, awaits its first reading.

It would amend the Misuse of Drugs Act to make a specific exemption for any person with a qualifying medical condition to cultivate, possess or use the cannabis plant and/or cannabis products for therapeutic purposes, provided they have the support of a registered medical practitioner.

This exemption would also apply to an immediate relative or other nominated person, so they can administer or supply cannabis to the person.

But that would also require NZ First support unless National backed it, which is unlikely.

Ardern and Labour should remember Helen Kelly.

Here is one reminder from last year: Jacinda v David: ‘The pain behind the medical marijuana debate’

It was sometime in the middle of last year when the political suddenly felt personal. It wasn’t a party, it wasn’t even a social occasion. I was visiting my friend who had spent the evening periodically flinching, doubling over, and rocking, and was now reaching for a form of cannabis as she tried to deal with her pain.

My friend was dying.

I think that’s what gets me most about the medical marijuana debate. It’s the perfect example of the brutal reality of people’s individual situations, and the layers of complexity that emerge as soon as you dig into it as a politician.

As policy makers, we are meant to park the personal, and deal with the big picture. But perhaps it’s those personal experiences that force us to figure out a way to get back to some simple principles. There are people who are terminally ill, who are experiencing extraordinary pain, and who are asking to access relief that works for them without being blocked by a minister of the Crown, and without being criminalised. Simple.

Not so simple with a three party government.

If NZ First won’t support decent legislation there’s not much Labour and the Greens can do but offer us crumbs of medical cannabis.

We may be surprised when we see the legislation some time this week, but the signals are not encouraging.

 

42 Comments

  1. NOEL

     /  December 19, 2017

    Surely those who are pushing an agenda thats not focused on only alleviating chronic pain shoul have predicted this?

    • I focus solely on medical, and their bill is likely to be toilet paper

      • Zedd

         /  December 19, 2017

        If your are solely medicinal (as you seem clear on), then please if they want Big-pharma only.. dont forget ‘Bedrocan’ from EU.. esp. for terminally ill (vape)

        cheers, keep up good work Sir !

        btw; its my no 1 too, then hemp

    • Kevin

       /  December 19, 2017

      I’m sure that’d be Winston’s excuse.

  2. Kevin

     /  December 19, 2017

    The key thing is whether the proposed legislation will legalise, under certain circumstances, the cannabis plant, or just ensure cannabis-derived medications are legal. If the latter which is most likel,y then all we will end up with is just the status quo. Complete and utter waste of time and a kick in the guts go all those who voted for Jacinda thinking she would do what she promised and legalise the plant for medical purposes.

    • PartisanZ

       /  December 19, 2017

      Well Kevin … you haven’t got Big Pharma breathing down your neck … I wrote a little poem about the Wine Box, a line from which seems almost appropriate –

      “You’re dealing with Fay Richwhite here, they don’t like to be crossed”

      I agree the situation sucks. It utterly sucks.

      There could be a temporary ‘fix’ – excuse the pun – which is to instruct the police to use their discretion more, to further ease up on personal use and cultivation for personal use, like maybe extend “a couple of plants” out to six?

      And for God’s sake take the heat of the Green Fairies.

      You couldn’t manufacture worse publicity if you paid Snaatchi & Snaatchi to do it for you! And in order to do it, those ‘agency guys’ would be high on something …

      • Kevin

         /  December 19, 2017

        “There could be a temporary ‘fix’ – excuse the pun – which is to instruct the police to use their discretion more, to further ease up on personal use and cultivation for personal use, like maybe extend “a couple of plants” out to six?”

        Actually that’s one of the paths to meaningful drug reform that I advocate. At the moment it’s a matter of pure luck whether you get Officer Hardass or Officer My-wife-uses-medicinal-marijuana-too. I’d like to see the discretion written into the Misuse of Drugs Act as a kind of decriminalisation for beginners if you will.

        The whole Misuse of Drugs Act is a draconian mess. It’s the only legislation that I know of where you can act 100% responsibly but still go to jail because someone, somewhere, might misuse and be irresponsible.

      • David

         /  December 19, 2017

        Well given Andrew Little hosted big pharma and they donated 155k to the Labour party it looks like the fix is in, if you want cannabis then its going to be an expensive pill brought to you by the big end of town.

        • Kitty Catkin

           /  December 19, 2017

          If you are saying that he accepted a bribe, you are saying that he is corrupt. I imagine that neither side is that stupid, and if they were going to indulge in corruption, the amount changing hands would be much larger and under the table. I have no time for Andrew Little, but it would take a lot to convince me that he would be like that-and nor would any company. There would be no guarantee that the party would be in a position to return the favour.

          It would be Go Directly to Jail, Do Not Pass Go, Do Not Collect $200. Even if someone was that dishonest and stupid, they wouldn’t get away with it here. I would be very surprised if anyone would try to give or take bribes in NZ, they’d be found out.

          • PartisanZ

             /  December 19, 2017

            I’m sorry Miss Kitty but the integrity of our politics and government departments has been bleached-out or gutted by successive regimes since Muldoon …

            That era, I believe, was when ideology and implementation parted company to an irreconcilable degree; with, for instance, some Treasury officials working ‘behind the scenes’ to supplant social security with neoliberalism …

            • Kitty Catkin

               /  December 20, 2017

              There is not the slightest evidence of bribery or corruption-if you know of any, you must act upon this knowledge. If you don’t, stop implying that this goes on.

              What motive would these people have ?

        • YourNZ Guest

           /  December 20, 2017

          “given Andrew Little hosted big pharma and they donated 155k to the Labour party ”

          Have you got evidence of this?

      • Zedd

         /  December 19, 2017

        @Pz

        in some states in USA (eg Calif.) the appropriate Authority (Dept. Health) Issue a verifiable ‘med-user card’ & the cops just leave these alone, once they verify the detail of user & keep an eye to ensure they are not selling it on black-market or local kids etc.

        All the fear-mongering is just that & can be addressed.. 🙂

        • PartisanZ

           /  December 19, 2017

          Has this led to a black market in ‘med-user cards’ …?

          • Zedd

             /  December 20, 2017

            Maybe possible.. BUT that should not be an EXCUSE/reason to stop others who are genuine/patient prescribed users, having access. Im sure Police are also responsible for ensuring that card-holders are genuine

            • Kitty Catkin

               /  December 20, 2017

              Some people misuse mobility cards by lending them out-this seems to be a good reason for having a photo on them, but this is apparently a ‘privacy issue’ which seems odd. It woulf stop misuse and theft.

            • Kitty Catkin

               /  December 20, 2017

              Would

              If the user cards had a photo, there would be no problem. Well, some people might get around this, but it would seem more trouble than it was worth.

            • PartisanZ

               /  December 20, 2017

              Would not!

              Photo ID cards are insipient harbingers of societal doom Miss KC. A manditory ID card, like a poll tax, spells with absolute certainty the arrival of the Inverted Totalitarian State.

              I know I get accused of doing it too Miss Kitty – I’m doing it now by participating in this little backwater eddy miles off a big river comment stream – so please don’t take this too seriously – its actually quite funny –
              you’re a real ‘character’ on this blog – you bring a lot of jest to it – but I just can’t work out how it’s possible for you to miss the point by so far so frequently …?

        • PartisanZ

           /  December 20, 2017

          It’s not gonna change the absurd situation we have Miss Kitty, or the ridiculously absurd situation that is rapidly developing …

          … That you have to be terminally-ill with less than 12 months to live and a doctors approval to use an ancient herb as medicine … and you’ll only be allowed to do so by growing your own until various pills and potions can be manufactured and made compulsory for doctors to prescribe and patients to purchase, probably at great expense ….

          … an ancient herb is also used recreationally by huge numbers of people illegally …

  3. robertguyton

     /  December 19, 2017

    “But that would also require NZ First support unless National backed it , which is unlikely.”
    Why wouldn’t they?
    They should.

  4. Zedd

     /  December 19, 2017

    methinks the power brokers in Wlgtn, just wont separate genuine med-use from other use.. (Its all ‘Marijuana’ to many ?) else they would ‘pull their heads out’ & trust GP doctors to prescribe/regulate its use, as in many OECD countries now.

    This whole issue around use of the ‘natural herb/plant’ is proof in point; they just look for all the negative EXCUSES/stereotypical misinfo. to keep the agenda on ‘Big-pharma’ products only.
    Interestingly in EU, USA & Canada, GPs can prescribe the raw herb.. actually recognising it does have ‘Therapeutic use’ esp. for terminal illness pain/suffering.

    btw; there is a ‘Big-Pharma’ product. that it just the herb; ‘Bedrocan’.. but Dunne tried to say that it was impossible to do this, saying they could not have a ‘standard dose’ OR be free of ‘contaminants’. Bedrocan is grown in ‘Clean room Green houses’ from known strains. We could have a similar thing, grown locally.. IF they would ‘take their blinkers off’ & open their minds, to the possibility ! 😦

  5. Zedd

     /  December 19, 2017

    I will be watching with interest… :/

  6. Kevin

     /  December 19, 2017

    Coleman’s onto it:

    https://www.radionz.co.nz/news/national/346530/medicinal-cannabis-rules-to-be-loosened-by-govt

    But National health spokesperson Jonathan Coleman said people who wanted law reform regarding medicinal cannabis wanted access to loose-leaf cannabis, and if Labour delivered anything less than that, it would be back-tracking on its promises.

    “They’ve talked really big on medicinal cannabis, it’s one of two priorities for health in their 100-day plan, so the pressure is really on them to deliver.

    “Anything short of living up to the promises that they’ve made I think will be quite a major backdown.”

    Another own-goal by Labour.

    • PartisanZ

       /  December 19, 2017

      Yes it looks like an own-goal Kevin.

      Personally I believe the wide separation that’s occurred between medicinal and recreational cannabis has clouded rather than clarified the issues. For instance, its put the government in a very ‘difficult’ position with regard to loose-leaf.

      At one extreme, anyone can say they “grow their own” and imbibe it to relieve pain. Legalizing loose-leaf and home grown will cover most recreational use too. This will leave the Police with a $400 million budget surplus and some hard questions about what to spend it on. It also raises the thorny issue of thousands upon thousands of past convictions and possible compensation?

      At the other extreme there’s a new Police Unit called ‘The Intention Police’, who watch people and investigate their medical histories to see if they are genuine ‘medicinal’ users or not, then prosecute the people who aren’t sick …

      • No compensation for past convictions Pnz. It was illegal, still is and its use is voluntary. Maybe it should be legalised for adults like alcohol and maybe we the people should vote on that topic to decide its legality going forward, but past convictions have no part in the discussion. Done is done.

        • so was having homsexual relations, but thats now going for comp, its a human rights issue prosecuting people for using an essential medicine

          • patupaiarehe

             /  December 19, 2017

            It could also be argued Shane, that it is a human right, to be able to enjoy a ‘recreational drug’, in the privacy of ones own home. I’ve read your posts, & really feel for you & your wife. I’ve commented on this site before, about how smoking pot, made my split knee cartilage a whole lot more tolerable, without the unpleasant side effects of opioids. Recreational pot smokers are not the enemy Shane. The government is. While you were ‘crossing T’s & dotting I’s’ last weekend, I was enjoying a fat spliff with a good friend, and neither of us give a FF about getting caught doing so. We like it, and smoke it just for fun, but your wife actually needs it, but can’t get it. Which is wrong. Seriously wrong…

            • Pickled Possum

               /  December 20, 2017

              Tautoko to you patupaiarehe. Crazy laws that are in opposition to the lore.

            • PartisanZ

               /  December 20, 2017

              Laws that are in opposition to concepts of Fairness and Justice too!

              Crimes without victims …

              People convicted, fined, stigmatized, curtailed, given ‘community service’, PD and prison sentences who have ABSOLUTELY NOTHING to regret or repent.

              Let’s call it what it is: It’s FUCKED!

              Yet another symptom of a broken-down system which is now stuck in the equivalent to Mercedes Benz’ ‘Limp Home’ mode …

          • Bollocks Shane – most of the historical convictions related to cannabis have little to do with medicinal use. You know that and so do I …. You are conflating to very different things

            And you are weakening you stance on cannabis as a medicine by trying that line on.

            Btw the way – I support cannabis for medical purposes. I am unconcerned if adults smoking it for recreation. I don’t care what consenting adults get up to in their sex lives.

            But quashing historical cannabis convictions is not a sensible thing – if a speed limit changes from 50 to 30 in a school area do we all get retrospective tickets? Or if the speed limit is changed from 50 to 70 on a rural road do we all get our former offences over turned and fine returned? NO we don’t.

            It was illegal – you broke the law – tough luck if the law subsequently is changed.

  7. Kevin

     /  December 20, 2017

    http://www.newshub.co.nz/home/politics/2017/12/government-rules-terminally-ill-people-allowed-to-smoke-cannabis.html

    Summary: Government to allow terminally ill patients to smoke cannabis, but only temporarily until the medicinal cannabis industry takes off.

    Wow. /sarc

    Basically the government is going to wait until more cannabis-derived medicines hit the market and then they’re going to presumably make sure such medicine is legally available.

    This from a government that promised to make medical cannabis, ie the plant, legal.

    Yeah right.

  8. PartisanZ

     /  December 20, 2017

    David Clark says, “This legislation goes further than any government before us.”

    Technically correct I suppose. Whoopie! Its like a snail saying, “I’m going faster than that possum back there lying in the middle of the road” …

    • Kitty Catkin

       /  December 20, 2017

      Whinge, whinge.

      • PartisanZ

         /  December 20, 2017

        Oh no Miss Kitty, you are reverting to type!

        Single word derisive response, and repetition as well!!!

        • PartisanZ

           /  December 20, 2017

          I promise, I’ll spell at least one word incorrectly, or use one in the WRONG contest, each time I post, if you’ll just go back to being an petulant, articulate, witty, incredibly *^&$##@#^&*(())_)())()()*&%%$$#####@@%^^%^&*(*)()()____Y&%^^%$%###@@

          PS – I’ve been true to my word in this very post …

        • Kitty Catkin

           /  December 21, 2017

          Most whingers keep doing it.