Cannabis bill – bad medicine

The Claytons Medical Cannabis Amendment Bill has been criticised for doing little but blowing smoke in the eyes of those suffering from chronic pain and illness.

The legal defence the Bill will provide for terminally ill people who use cannabis is bizarre. It remains illegal to grow cannabis, and it remains illegal to supply cannabis, so dying people still have to rely on illegal supply, and Minister of Health David Clark is relying on his calls for the police to act with ‘compassion’.

RNZ: Medicinal cannabis bill will send ‘clear signal’ to police

Some medicinal cannabis users say they can see hope but no material changes for them in the government’s proposed legislation.

The Misuse of Drugs amendment Bill tabled yesterday sets up a regulated domestic cannabis industry, makes it easier to access medical marijuana products and lets the terminally ill use illicit cannabis.

Health Minister David Clark said while the law did not allow people to grow cannabis, police were using a “huge amount of discretion” and the government’s legislation sent a strong message that was the right thing to do.

“The police are using discretion currently for personal use, and I expect this will send a clear signal that for the terminally ill it would be completely pointless to be prosecuting them for using it.”

Access to pharmaceutical-grade medicinal cannabis products was “problematic” and in time the legislation would result in greater supply of quality medicinal cannabis, including products made in New Zealand.

“We want to make available products that have good evidence behind them, that doctors feel safe prescribing.

“In the mean time … this makes it clear that there’s a legal defence for people in the final years of their life.”

Did he say ‘final years’? Yes he did, I’ve just listened to it again. His bill only allows a defence in the final year.


Clark seems to be trying to opt out of compassion himself and put that onus on the police.

Mike Moreu, December 22, 2017

This is actually worse than a Clayton’s law – it suggests that dying people would put others at legal risk in seeking cannabis for their own use.

Clark effectively said in the RNZ interview (I’ll do a full transcript when I get time) that his bill relies on the police using discretion and showing compassion – something which they can and do already, usually but not always.

Clark also contradicts himself, saying he will support Chloe Swarbrick’s Members’ Bill, but argues against what that is atempting to allow in respect of his own bill.

There are some promising aspects to the bill, but it is severely flawed when it gives dying people a legal defence but requires illegal acts outside of that for them to get any cannabis to use.

I get it that Labour and the Greens couldn’t get the support of NZ First for what they actually wanted.

They should have been upfront and honest and said they didn’t have the votes to deliver. That is a political reality.

Instead they have put forward a half arsed bill in order to try and be seen to be keeping a promise, but it makes things legally messier, relying on the police not enforcing the law.

The bill is bitter medicine without any cure for a problem they promised to fix.



  1. Ray

     /  December 23, 2017

    I don’t have a strong opinions either way on drugs though my personal position is to avoid them, especially those with no real scientific testing backing them up.
    That said the position taken by the Government seems cruel and not very helpful, either get them tested and allow those that help or open the gates and let people make their own choices.
    Portugal has taken the latter position and life continues, why don’t they just do it.

    • PartisanZ

       /  December 23, 2017

      Even if Nanny State were kindly Ray – and she isn’t because she’s gotta feed the voracious appetites demanded of her grand-children Policia, Judicia and Prisonia – Great-Uncle Corporate Morality and Daddy Big Pharma are not … They’re about as kindly as Twin Cousins Tobacco & Liquor …

      And New Zealand has forfeited its Soul for socially progressive legislation, sold-out to ‘rational self-interest’ governed by cultivated greed, fear and demoralization … and the dis-ease they generate …

      • PartisanZ

         /  December 23, 2017

        You wanna know what’s wrong with this legislation? Its created by a government trapped in a tiny corner of the vast temple of socio-political possibility, that we, the democratically enfranchised people, painted them into …

  2. Gezza

     /  December 23, 2017

    Good post PG. It puts the police in an invidious position. Now would be a good time for the media to seek & report comment from the Police Commissioner & Police Association & request copies of any Police Operational Instructions on the matter under the OIA.

  3. Chuck Bird

     /  December 23, 2017

    This is similar to Key’s stance on the anti-smacking law. The difference being that this is a short term measure until medical cannabis can be produced in NZ at a reasonable cost.

    • PartisanZ

       /  December 23, 2017

      In other words it’s legislation written for Big Pharma …

  4. More of the same opt-out, lily-livered blandness delivered to you by MMP and career politicians

    • PartisanZ

       /  December 23, 2017

      … democratically of course … as decided by the people … Right?

    • Gezza

       /  December 23, 2017

      Have National said they’ll vote for Chloe Swarbrick’s bill trav?

  5. Pickled Possum

     /  December 23, 2017

    ‘The bill is bitter medicine without any cure for a problem they promised to fix.’

    Yes pete ‘Promise’, is the new word of the desperate to be elected.
    More of the same Obfuscation a plenty …
    Roll on Sanity for our dying in pain, sick debilitated streessed out,
    sprayed on, sick of waiting society.

  6. How does a patient know if they are in their “final” year? What if someone accidentally outlives the protected time frame? The police will presumably have to exercise extra-special discretion.

    • Kitty Catkin

       /  December 23, 2017

      I suspect that in reality, most people don’t.

      This is not to say that they don’t go into spontaneous remission, like the then young mother who was sent home to die because her cancer was incurable and running ahead of the treatment….she went into remission and lived for deades-could even be still alive.

    • PartisanZ

       /  December 23, 2017

      @-D – “The police will presumably have to exercise extra-special discretion” …

      Or possibly a new form of arrest warrant, post-praedicere-mortem …?

  7. Kevin

     /  December 23, 2017

    Despite Jacinda’s emphatic “yes” to legalising medicinal cannabis the government’s position has turned out to be the same as National’s – cannabis-derived CBD medicine approved by the Ministry of Health is ok but having a toke to relieve pain is a no-no.

    And to put the medicinal cannabis vs cannabis-derived medicine debate to rest:

    a tall plant with a stiff upright stem, divided serrated leaves, and glandular hairs. It is used to produce hemp fibre and as a psychotropic drug.
    a dried preparation of the flowering tops or other parts of the cannabis plant, or a resinous extract of it ( cannabis resin ), used (generally illegally) as a psychotropic drug, chiefly in cigarettes.

    So cannabis-derived medicine is not cannabis. It’s like saying a plank of wood is tree.

    Plus it’s pretty obvious that when Jacinda said she supports legalising medicinal cannabis that people thought she meant the plant, and not cannabis-derived medicine.

    • Zedd

       /  December 23, 2017

      tautoko tena, kevin

      I dont think this Govt. are ‘opening the door wide’ (for; raw herb/home grow) BUT maybe just widening the small gap that exists; it has to be better than the current ‘unfunded Sativex only’ (take it or leave it & go to Black-market !) :/

      It maybe a small step, but better than standing still.. The Greens are saying they will go ahead with their Members Bill, if this bill does NOT go far enough for them. BUT I hear it will be a ‘personal vote’ & no guarantees it will pass. Dr Clark said he would support it if, it goes to 1st reading in 2018, but no other Govt. MPs (besides Greens) have said this, as far as Im aware ?

      • PartisanZ

         /  December 23, 2017

        Yeah Zedd, like we’ll bind your feet and loosely hobble you and then you can take a tiny tiny step …

        Meantime the false distinction between medicinal and recreational cannabis use gets further entrenched … The former MUST be ALL about physical pain, the latter ALL about “getting high” …

        I no longer hold out any hope of a legal home-grow option within my lifetime …

        But I can see some pretty absurd situations developing, for example where only ‘tailor made’ cannabis cigarettes are legal and you can be prosecuted for rolling your own even if you’ve dismembered a tailey to do so … ? To toy with Kevin’s excellent analogy, “a tree becomes a plank of wood” …

        This is a BIG black cross against this Labour-led coalition for me. My only comfort is that I largely expected it …

        I just wanna say one more thing …. FUCK THEM!

        • Zedd

           /  December 24, 2017


          Whilst it maybe that ‘approved Big-pharma products’ is the way NZ is going.. there is a word you may have heard of: ‘Bedrocan’ (packaged buds from EU, of known strain & compounds).. official Medicinal Cannabis ‘product’. Perhaps the exception to extracts/oils etc.

          just a thought.. 🙂