Two cannabis bills before Parliament

After a long time of Parliament avoiding dealing with the use of cannabis there are two bills that will be voted on in First Readings this week before Parliament. The Government bill is a cop out with limited and legally contradictory concessions. Chloe Swarbrick’s members’ bill addresses the medical cannabis issue far better and will be of most interest.

RNZ: MPs to vote on medicinal cannabis bills

MPs will vote this afternoon on the government’s plan to make medicinal cannabis more widely available.

The government’s bill lays the groundwork for a regulated medicinal cannabis industry and effectively allows terminally ill people to use illicit marijuana in the last year of their life. It will be considered by MPs today.

Green MP Chloe Sarbrick’s bill would allow patients to grow their own marijuana – with a doctor’s permission – to treat a terminal illness or debilitating condition. It will come before Parliament on Wednesday.

Misuse of Drugs (Medicinal Cannabis) Amendment Bill

This Bill amends the Misuse of Drugs Act 1975. The Bill will introduce an exception and a statutory defence for terminally ill people to possess and use illicit cannabis and to possess a cannabis utensil; provide a regulation-making power to enable the setting of standards that products manufactured, imported, and supplied under licence must meet; and amend Schedule 2 of the Act so that cannabidiol (CBD) and CBD products are no longer classed as controlled drugs.

This bill was introduced after a promise by Labour, but it has been widely criticised as being a cop out, and even the Minister who introduced it said that if people wanted more they should look to Swarbrick’s bill.

Misuse of Drugs (Medicinal Cannabis and Other Matters) Amendment Bill

The purpose of this bill is to make it legal for New Zealanders who are suffering from terminal illness or any debilitating condition to use cannabis or cannabis products with the support of a registered medical practitioner.

This is the bill that campaigners for access to medical cannabis are interested in as it would allow people with chronic pain and debilitating illnesses to use, but there is also some strong opposition, with fears it opens the legal door to recreational use.

Bob McCoskrie, of Christian lobby group Family First NZ, said the government’s more “cautious and researched” legislation should go before a select committee.

But he said Ms Swarbrick’s bill should be “chucked in the bin”.

“There is no redeemable factor in it. It’s a grow-your-own-dope bill.”

That is a dopey claim devoid of compassion. There must be a redeemable factor in allowing people to legally alleviate pain and to try to reduce symptoms of awful illnesses, including terminal illnesses where death can’t be certified to be imminent.

1 News: Helen Clark backs Chloe Swarbrick’s medicinal cannabis bill ahead of Labour’s legislation

Former prime minister Helen Clark is backing Green MP Chloe Swarbrick’s bill to improve access to medicinal cannabis, ahead of the Labour-led Government’s own bill.

Ms Clark is now on a global drug policy commission which promotes the reduction of harm from drugs.

So Helen Clark has ignored David Clark’s bill and is promoting Swarbrick’s.

NZ Herald: Grey Power urges MPs to support Green’s medicinal cannabis bill

Grey Power is urging MPs to support the Green MP Chloe Swarbrick’s bill on medicinal cannabis, which is set to have its first reading on Wednesday and potentially pave the way for greater access.

Grey Power president Tom O’Connor said MPs should support Swarbrick’s bill at the first reading so it can be explored by a select committee.

“Those with chronic pain should also have access to medical cannabis, if it offers them some relief.”

He said health professionals, not politicians, should decide who should be allowed to use cannabis for medical purposes.

O’Connor said Grey Power supported cannabis-based pharmaceuticals, but not home-grown cannabis for self-medication.

“Self-medication is hazardous at best and, for as long as recreational home grown cannabis is illegal, we cannot support its use for self-medication as it would be too easy to abuse.”

It is widely abused already, it’s hard to see that getting any worse with more liberal laws.

Unlike David Clark’s bill the Swarbrick bill will be a conscience vote. It will be interesting to see who votes for and against it – especially NZ First MPs, given the Grey Power support.

The Clark bill is a bit of a waste of time so I don’t care much about what happens with that. It should pass it’s first vote, but with a more comprehensive bill also coming before Parliament it is hardly necessary.

I hope that Swarbrick’s bill at least passes it’s first vote and goes to select Committee, where the public will be able to make submissions on it.

All Green MPs will probably vote for Swarbrick’s bill, and most Labour MPs should too – both Clark and Jacinda Ardern have said they will support it.

NZ First MPs could be mixed on it.

There will be definite opposition from some National MPs, and some will support it. The bill may depend on enough enlightened and compassionate National MPs supporting it.

Recently from Medical Cannabis Awareness NZ: Medical cannabis: Terminal vs Severe and Debilitating?

David Farrar at Kiwiblog:

The sensible thing for MPs to do is vote for both the Government and the Swarbrick bill to go to select committee, so the select committee can hear evidence on both bills, and work out which regime would be best to provide relief to those suffering from chronic pain.

It is worth reflecting that there is overwhelming public support for cannabis to be available for pain relief. A poll Curia did for the Drug Foundation last year had 78% support for medicial use of cannabis not to be a criminal offence and only 17% opposed.

The net support for not having medical use of cannabis being a criminal offence by party vote is:

  • National voters +60% (78% to 18%)
  • Labour voters +61% (78% to 17%)
  • NZ First +54% (77% to 23%)
  • Greens +77% (88% to 11%)
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36 Comments

  1. alloytoo

     /  January 30, 2018

    My concern is that medicinal use is not adequately regulated, it will mask recreational use, resulting in increased mental health issues which can arise from it’s usage.

    • Kevin

       /  January 30, 2018

      The biggest lie by Prohibitionists is that prohibition curbs problematic use. It does nothing of the sort. All it does at the most it lessen the number of responsible users. Problematic users will use regardless if the drug is legal or illegal. If you want to increase mental health issues then keep weed illegal and unregulated and watch as the levels of THC increase to absurd and uncontrolled levels.

      • Griff

         /  January 30, 2018

        Cannabis is cannabis
        Stronger just means less required for the same effect.
        You don’t drink straight spirits like you drink beer. You don’t roll big joints with modern pot you have a small amount usually in a pipe
        As to the effects on youth
        Collarodo has reducing use amoung the young.

        • Kevin

           /  January 30, 2018

          Agreed. But at least with booze you know how much alcohol is in it. With cannabis because it’s illegal unless you know the strain you don’t know how much THC is in it. I’d bet the majority of emergency department admissions due to cannabis is because the person smoked a much stronger strain than they were used to.

          • Griff

             /  January 30, 2018

            Emergency department for overdoses
            Rofl
            Nursy pats you on the head and tells you to have a nice little sleep
            When someone brings up od on pot you know they have no idea
            Smoking is self limiting you lose interest well before you get to high
            It is eating pot that catches some out
            The delay between eating and effect means some eat to much
            Paranioa means some go to hospital as a result
            The actual effect just wears off with no need for medical interventions at all
            Od on pot is a scare story nothing more
            Reefer madness level of misinformed rubbish.

      • alloytoo

         /  January 30, 2018

        I’m not advocating prohibition. Prohibition doesn’t work and enables criminal activity. (Be it boose, cannabis or guns)

        What I’m saying is that regulation for medical use (for all it’s good intentions) may allow problematic recreational use to be masked, leading to increased mental health issues, and inadequate tools for addressing it. It could be worse than doing nothing.

        What is needed is a comprehensive approach which addresses not only medicinal usage, but also recreational usage, and the possible consequences arising there from. (Health, social and employment wise to name a few)

        • Kitty Catkin

           /  January 30, 2018

          By Collarodo, do you mean Colorado ?

        • PartisanZ

           /  January 30, 2018

          Alloytoo … Just getting Chloe’s Bill through to Law would probably save the government $300 million of the $400 million they currently spend ‘policing’ cannabis … the other $100 million could seek to prosecute the real criminals … most of whom, I speculate, are dealing in Meth as well …

          $300 million might go a long way towards addressing the mental health issues you speak of and providing the tools for responsible recreational as well as medical usage beginning with a sensible ‘home grow’ limit?

  2. Kevin

     /  January 30, 2018

    My comment in kiwiblog:

    The two bills are not mutually exclusive. The government’s bill is about the manufacturing and prescription of CBD-based medicines. The Greens’ bill is about allowing people to consume cannabis for therapeutic purposes:
    Quote:
    Section 2 amended (Interpretation)
    (1)
    In section 2(1), insert in their appropriate alphabetical order:
    medicinal cannabis means any form of cannabis referred to in this Act, including (without limitation) any cannabis plant, preparation, or derivative, that is cultivated, supplied, or possessed (as the case may be) solely in order that it may be used by a person with a qualifying health condition for therapeutic purposes.

    What’s interesting about that is that it doesn’t define medicinal cannabis by the amount of CBD/THC. So under the bill even cannabis with low levels of CBD but high levels of THC can be called medicinal purposes so long as you have a qualifying health condition and are using the cannabis for therapeutic purposes.

  3. Zedd

     /  January 30, 2018

    I think the elephant in the room; is that many dont see ‘Big Pharma’ (pills & potions) as the preferred/only option & would like to see the ‘raw herb’ available too (vaping etc.).. BUT they are not addressing the ‘supply chain’. In Holland, USA, Canada etc. they grow & package such ‘products’ of know strains & cannabinoid content; eg ‘Bedrocan’
    The Greens bill is a step forward, to address this, but allowing ‘home grow’ is likely relying on getting seeds or cuttings from Black-market sources.. NOT good enough, methinks

    Our politicians need to stop looking for excuses & get up to speed with these other OECD countries that are years, if not decades ahead of NZ on this issue (Medicinal/Therapeutic use) 😦

    btw; I recently heard that Mother Aubert (19th entury Nun) is on the path to become NZs first Saint; Im sure she would be ‘spinning in her grave’ IF she knew the plant she reportedly widely used/prescribed for a raft of illness/conditions, is actually ILLEGAL in her country !

    • Kevin

       /  January 30, 2018

      In Holland they call it legal in front but illegal in the back. Meaning it’s legal to sell cannabis if you run a coffee shop but you can’t actually buy “stock” without breaking the law. As you mention, home-grown faces the same problem – legal to grow but illegal to buy the seeds in the first place. We need to completely cut the blackmarket out of by allowing the commercial growing of cannabis and allow the legal importation.

      • Zedd

         /  January 30, 2018

        @Kevin

        I went to Amsterdam once.. they had a word that means ‘turn a blind eye’ (as long as you behave & dont run around being an nuisance) but this only referred to ‘personal/Rec. use’ in coffeeshops etc.
        Im sure their Med-use is fully legal/regulated now. ‘Bedrocan’ is a dutch medicinal product, that NZ could potentially import, until we develop a similar ‘licensed grow’ regime.
        IF Lab/NZF are still in the ‘Big Pharma only’ camp, then these products are grown/produced by ‘Big Pharma companies’ & surely should fit their rules ?! :/

  4. Kevin

     /  January 30, 2018

    If you’re going to allow cannabis to be used for therapeutic purposes (which I agree with) then why not allow all recreational drugs to be used for therapeutic purposes? For example controlled doses of heroin is used for opioid addiction in England and Europe. MDMA is used for the treatment of PTSD and has been so successful that in the US the FDA has fast-tracked research into it. And LSD has shown potential in the treatment of depression and addiction including alcoholism.

    • Zedd

       /  January 30, 2018

      Tautoko, much of the WAR on Drugs rhetoric has not only stopped these drugs being used medicinally, but also further research into their potential uses.
      In USA they are allowing Med-Cannabis in 29 states, but their Federal laws still have it listed as a ‘Schedule #1 Narcotic’ (similar to HEROIN ?); supposedly ‘Most open to abuse & of NO KNOWN medicinal/therapeutic use/value’

      Go Figure that out folks, I think NZ politicians are perhaps, confused by this obvious double-standard approach ?

      • Kitty Catkin

         /  January 30, 2018

        I saw a news item years ago about a young man who was prescribed a very small dose of heroin daily-I think that he had to go and have it administered. It was just enough to make him feel normal, not stoned. He was now in steady work as a builder and his wife and family had a new life-it was a great advertisement for this.

  5. PartisanZ

     /  January 30, 2018

    All drug use is about pain relief … It’s all about pain … “these are all attempts to get away from distress” – Dr Mate Gabor …

    I hope the Green’s Bill gains traction because, although it promulgates the largely false medicinal vs recreational distinction, it is far-and-away the most progressive. If it is also ‘home grow’ in disguise all the better IMHO, with age limit, grow limit and other sensible safeguards …

    Not everyone will want or be able to grow their own – and therapeutic cannabis needs to be grown to specifications – so a regulated cannabis growing and processing industry for both pharmaceutical and personal use is not only socially and clinically warranted but highly desirable economically … e.g, the ‘crime’ must be removed from supply …

    However, I don’t hold out much hope for home grow. The Righties will activate their lobbying forces during Select Committee – like Family First and The Conservative Coalition – whereby the 22% opposed to medicinal cannabis use (NZ Research) will appear to constitute a 70 – 80% oppositional voice … and we’re fucked for another generation …

    Exactly this happened recently with the Maryann Street inspired Parliamentary Select Committee into voluntary euthanasia …

    This can be partially remedied by the briefest of emails or facebook messages to the MPs you feel represent you … Just say you support the Green’s Bill including limited home grow …

    • PartisanZ

       /  January 30, 2018

      Whoops … Dr Gabor Mate …

    • Griff

       /  January 30, 2018

      The momentum is such that the conservatives are fighting a losing battle
      It is not if but when we finally see sence
      The war on drugs is a war on peploe
      As the baby boomers die off the resistance to an informed apraoch to recreational drugs will fade away.
      Prohibition does more harm than actually using drugs does.

      • PartisanZ

         /  January 30, 2018

        I’m a baby boomer, I hold an informed, sensible opinion, and I don’t want to wait until I have died off before the resistance fades away …

        I want to remove the resistance … NOW!!!

        We are about to find out just how strong, mobilized and activated that resistance is … yet again.

        Add Big Pharma with a gun to the governments head and I predict something akin to Labour’s absurd ‘terminally-ill’ Bill will go through and we’ll wait until 2020 for any more movement on this … (unless there is massive public protest, which is unlikely in our ‘new’ world of isolated individuals) …

        I’ve sent my email to all MPs I feel represent me, including, in utter futility, Matt King.

        I’m deeply sorry to sound pessimistic Zedd … Griff and others much closer …

      • Zedd

         /  January 30, 2018

        @griff

        I know several ‘Baby boomers’ who fully support this issue. 🙂
        Prohibition is mainly being led by those who grew up in the ‘Reefer Madness’ days & the ‘Moral crusaders’ (church etc.) who are either lacking real info./IGNORANT of the actual facts & still caught up in the negative rhetoric/stereotyping that has been rammed down our throats for most of the 20th century; “Addiction, Insanity, even murder etc.”
        BUT also many in the ‘Prohibition Industry’ (Police, courts, prisons, customs) who rely upon it, for their ‘gainful employment’ & likely dont really want a change to Status Quo. Estimates are that aprox. 15-20% of all their work comes from the WAR on Drugs !

        • Griff

           /  January 30, 2018

          Gee z
          Griff is 54
          He’s a baby boomer just
          I have been commenting on political blogs for 7 years
          In that time the mood has swung towards a rational drug policy to minimize harm and treat drug use as a health issue not a criminal one
          When not if
          I expect sane rational drug laws will happen in our life time
          When it does we will look at the past like we now view the debates over gay marriage
          What the smeg took so long

          • PartisanZ

             /  January 30, 2018

            I sincerely hope there will come a time when “when not if” or ‘sometime soon’ or ‘in our lifetime’ is simply no longer acceptable. There’s a computer program already that can easily identify unjust laws by comparing them to the wording of a Constitution … Failing that I hope the population rises up …

            I hope we create numerous, flexible and ever evolving political mechanisms to cope with ‘unacceptable’. Something better, yes BETTER than the gruelingly slow ‘retard-progress’ of legislation like this cannabis law reform through HER Majesty’s ‘Parliament’ …

            As technocapitalism advances by exponential growth and quantum leaps, almost all of it applicable to political representation – and almost none of it actually applied – our so-called ‘democracy’ looks more and more like a dinosaur fatally caught in the quicksands of impending extinction …

            • Kevin

               /  January 30, 2018

              Our drug laws are based on three very simple lies:

              1. Prohibition reduces problem use.
              2. Legalisation will result in a dramatic increase in use of the particular drug (F.U.D.)
              3. Most users are problematic users.

              I call them lies and not erroneous beliefs as I believe that prohibitionists know they are lies but just don’t care. To them it’s not about harm reduction – they just see a particularly drug as “evil” and therefore must be banned.

            • PartisanZ

               /  January 30, 2018

              Kevin … Well, yeah … and “must be banned” because there’s money to made for them somewhere … from other substances … or from upholding the unjust law …

      • Kevin

         /  January 30, 2018

        Plenty of folks on the Left who oppose legalising drugs such as Ecstasy, Speed and LSD. Yet if someone believes that Prohibition is inherently wrong then they must support the legalisation of all recreational drugs.

  6. Our main push for Chloes bill is that it captures the hearts of what patients want, and Labours bill is predetermined by the stomach of NZ First MPs so the chance of “upgrading” Labours bill isn’t that great in my opinion.

    • Zedd

       /  January 30, 2018

      just watched the bill introduced & a couple of speeches; Dr J Coleman said Natl will support it to select committee, but made it sound like it was ‘no real change to current law’ I disagree, it is a minor change, better than none

      BUT it sounds like Chloe’s bill is a ‘step to far’ for Natl.

      Even though its called the ‘Medicinal Cannabis bill’ Colman could not help himself by adding the slang MJ word, a few times… as a Doctor he knows its correct name.. ‘muddying the waters’ methinks !

      • Kitty Catkin

         /  January 30, 2018

        Do stop nitpicking-that ‘muddies the waters’ by focussing on a non-issue and making it one. When I looked it up, they were different names for the same thing, like radio and wireless.

        • Kitty Catkin

           /  January 30, 2018

          A journal of Clinical Neuropharmacology says ‘Cannabis ( medical marijuana)’ You can’t tell me that a medical journal’s contributors, doctors, would not know what the proper term is or use a slang expression in such a context.

          Dope, mary-jane and grass are slang terms for it, marijuana isn’t.

          • Zedd

             /  January 30, 2018

            @kitty

            IF you do proper research, you will find that ‘Marijuana’ is a Mexican Slang word, included in an old song ‘La Cuceracha’ : ‘Marijuana por fumar’

            The plant/drugs correct scientific name is: Cannabis Sativa/Indica.

            I read that the reason why there is confusion is due to the fact that the USA Govt. in 1937 passed the ‘MariHuana Tax Act’ to stop recreational use of a drug that was almost unknown & feared by the middleclass mainsteam. They did NOT mention that it was the same plant that several pharmaceutical companies were already using as CANNABIS, but many did not realise until the law was passed.. the hysteria was driven against ‘Marihuana’ (sic USA) mainly through ignorance & misinfo. that still continues in 2018 NZ !

            • Gezza

               /  January 30, 2018

              I wonder if you’re worrying overly much about nothing re this name thing as well Zedd. It’s medical marijuana to me. “Cannabis” has always sounded like a stronger drug to me for some reason. I don’t think some people calling it medical marijuana confuses people into thinking it’s a different substance from medical cannabis. The matter has had plenty of coverage.

            • Zedd

               /  January 31, 2018

              @Gezza

              I hear you.. BUT if you look into the ‘Misuse of Drugs act 1975’ (current law) you will not find the MJ word, the official document, uses its correct name: Cannabis.. SO you would think that politicians would do likewise , unless they are deliberately trying to create confusion ?? just saying 🙂

            • Kitty Catkin

               /  January 31, 2018

              It’s been around for more than a hundred years and has now been used in three centuries. The word is now mainstream, surely, after all this time. The US government must have been very stupid in 1937, as the drug itself was so well known that it is mentioned in Louisa May Alcott’s books as a medicine and used as one. Louisa May Alcott is one of the most famous writers in US literary history.

              I would hardly use the word hysteria of the way it is talked about in 2018 NZ, most people-I hope-are not that dim or naive.

              1937 is 81 years ago. Words become mainstream in less time that that ! Just accept that people use the words interchangeably. If you can’t take my word for it, you can surely take that of a specialist medical journal.

  7. Zedd

     /  January 30, 2018

    Yahoo.. one down… 120-0
    maybe one to follow !

    • PartisanZ

       /  January 30, 2018

      Here’s hoping Zedd, because Chloe’s Bill is the one that will make a significant difference IMHO …