Misuse of Drugs (Medicinal Cannabis) Amendment Bill

Peter Dunne’s response to the Misuse of Drugs (Medicinal Cannabis) Amendment Bill that was tabled in parliament yesterday:

Prediction based on informed advice: there will be no immediate or significant increase in access to cannabis based medicines as a result of essentially cosmetic government legislation. It’s all about the 100 days commitment rather than doing anything substantive.

Sadly, I think he is right. It is sort of an improvement on the current law, but in practical terms it is far more political window dressing than practical or meaningful change.

The bill: Misuse of Drugs (Medicinal Cannabis) Amendment Bill

3 Principal Act

This Act amends the Misuse of Drugs Act 1975 (the principal Act).

An amendment to the act is notable, but it is largely symbolic.

4 Section 2 amended (Interpretation)

In section 2(1), insert in its appropriate alphabetical order:

CBD product means a product that—

(a) contains cannabidiol; and

(b) if it contains other cannabinoids usually found in cannabis, contains those cannabinoids in a quantity that, in total, constitutes no more than 2% of the total quantity of cannabinoids in the product; and

It has been pointed out that 98% ‘pure’ CBD is likely to be difficult to extract from a complex plant with many chemical components, and is likely to be expensive to manufacture.

(c) does not contain any other controlled drug; and

(d) does not contain a psychoactive substance (as defined in section 9 of the Psychoactive Substances Act 2013)

terminal illness means an illness from which a person can reasonably be expected to die within 12 months

Dying people are theoretically given an exemption from illegal cannabis use, but in practice it will be difficult or very expensive to obtain product.

5 Section 7 amended (Possession and use of controlled drugs)

(1) In section 7(2), replace “subsection (3)” with “subsections (2A) and (3)”.

(2) After section 7(2), insert:

(2A) A person who contravenes subsection (1)(a) does not commit an offence if the person—

(a) procures, possesses, consumes, smokes, or otherwise uses any plant or plant material of the genus Cannabis, any cannabis preparation, or any cannabis fruit or seed; but

(b) has a certificate from a medical practitioner or nurse practitioner certifying that the person has a terminal illness.

That sounds ok for people who are certified to be dying, but excludes people with severe medical conditions or pain.

But:

(3) After section 7(3), insert:

(3A) In any proceedings for an offence against subsection (1)(a) in respect of possessing or using any plant or plant material of the genus Cannabis, any cannabis preparation, or any cannabis fruit or seed, the defendant may provide evidence that, at the time of the possession or use, the defendant had been diagnosed by a medical practitioner or nurse practitioner as having a terminal illness.

A dying person can posses or use cannabis, but they can’t get it legally – it is illegal for anyone to supply them.

So what do you do if you are told you have 6 months to live – find some seeds without anyone supplying you, and hope the plants grow before you die?

[Update – I have this wrong, Minister of Health David Clark says it remains illegal for anyone to grow cannabis.]

6 Section 13 amended (Miscellaneous offences)

After section 13(1), insert:

(1A) However, in any proceedings for an offence against subsection (1)(a) of possessing a pipe or other utensil (not being a needle or syringe) for the purpose of possessing or using any plant or plant material of the genus Cannabis, any cannabis preparation, or any cannabis fruit or seed, the defendant may provide evidence that, at the time of possessing the pipe or other utensil, the defendant had been diagnosed by a medical practitioner or nurse practitioner as having a terminal illness.

Again, allowed to have a pipe or utensil, but somehow you have to get it.

7 Section 14 amended (Licences)

After section 14(1), insert:

(1A) Without limiting subsection (1), the Governor-General may, by Order in Council on the recommendation of the Minister, make regulations to prescribe the minimum quality standard that must be met by a product or class of product—

(a) that contains a controlled drug; and

(b) that may be manufactured, imported, or supplied under a licence granted under this Act.

The Minister can determine standard – that may be a good thing or a bad thing.

So what does all this mean? Probably not much – it is still difficult or expensive to obtain cannabis products if you are dying, and still illegal if you suffer from chronic pain or some other serious ongoing medical condition.

The Greens have agreed to support this bill, but are still proceeding with a Members’ Bill that will have a go at making real change. Jacinda Ardern has said that via a conscience vote she will support the Green bill, which is hardly a vote of confidence in this bill.

 

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5 Comments

  1. Clark has been put on the spot by Guyon Espiner.

    Clark admits that a very limited number of legal products are very expensive, it is illegal for terminally ill people to grow their own plants (I got that wrong), and it is illegal for anyone to supply a terminally ill person with cannabis.

    He claims that the police will use compassion. It is no change effectively to what we have now.

  2. Ray

     /  December 21, 2017

    Yet another “Claytons” move by the present Government.
    If you don’t want the police to hassle dope growers change the law!
    If you don’t want to sell State Housing, just stop selling them rather than ” selling those houses that don’t fit into our plans for the portfolio ” which was the last Governments policy.
    And so it goes.

  3. Zedd

     /  December 21, 2017

    Im waiting for the debate to occur, before I ‘pass further judgement’.. it has to be better than the status quo 🙂

    • Zedd

       /  December 21, 2017

      if you are going to downtick my cannabis comments.. then maybe you could at least maybe say why ?
      OR are you just an ignorant FOOL who thinks Cannabis is an EVIL DRUG that you heard about watching ‘Reefer Madness’ ?

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