Medicinal cannabis bill passes first reading, doesn’t pass the compassionate test

The Government Misuse of Drugs (Medicinal Cannabis) Amendment Bill passed it’s first reading in Parliament yesterday, but it has failed to pass muster as a decent, compassionate bill.

Minister of Health, David Clark, introduced the bill.

This bill makes three key changes: it provides people who have a terminal illness a statutory defence to the charge of possessing and using cannabis, it will allow us to make regulations to set quality standards for medicinal cannabis products, and it removes cannabidiol from the Misuse of Drugs Act so that it is no longer a controlled drug. This bill does not make any changes to the recreational use of cannabis.

Making regulations to set quality standards for medicinal cannabis products will in time be worthwhile.

The last Government effectively already removed cannabidiol from the Misuse of Drugs Act so that it is no longer a controlled drug – it can now be supplied on prescription.

And the first change is a crock. It will remain illegal for cannabis to be grown or supplied, so people who are terminally ill will have to rely on someone breaking the law.

This bill will make medicinal cannabis more readily available and will help bring relief to people suffering a terminal illness or those in chronic pain.

That is very poorly worded (Clark read from a prepared speech).

The bill will do little to make medicinal cannabis more readily available (in the main it will be illegal to make it available).

And it provides no legal or medical relief for those in chronic pain or suffering from a debilitating illness if they are not certified as dying (within 12 months).

A major part of this bill is the development of a medicinal cannabis scheme. This will include an advisory committee to review the current requirements for prescribing medicinal cannabis, setting minimum product quality standards to improve patient safety and give medical practitioners confidence, and allow for the domestic cultivation and manufacture of medicinal cannabis products. In time, this scheme will lead to a greater supply of quality medicinal cannabis products worldwide, including products made here in New Zealand. The bill will allow for quality standards to be set for all medicinal cannabis products, whether produced domestically or imported.

Sounds ok, but this will take time to implement. Years probably.

We know, however, that in the interim there will be people with a terminal illness using illicit cannabis. That is why this bill establishes a defence to the charge of using and possessing cannabis or a cannabis utensil for people who have been diagnosed with a terminal illness. Giving the terminally ill a statutory defence for the possession and use of illicit cannabis will mean they are not criminalized in their final days. This is the compassionate thing to do while the medicinal cannabis scheme is established.

Someone who is dying probably won’t like being criminalized “in their final days” but it will be of little real consequence. It is unlikely the police would try to prosecute them now anyway, and they would probably die before the court process completed.

This is the compassionate thing to do while the medicinal cannabis scheme is established.

Terminally ill people are likely to rely on family, whānau, and friends to source illicit cannabis for them. We do not propose extending the statutory defence to cover the range of people who could supply cannabis to terminally ill people.

It is not ‘compassionate’ to force family, whānau, and friends to act illegally to supply cannabis. This is an awful aspect of the bill.

This legislation will not please all of the campaigners for medicinal cannabis…

An admission of it’s inadequacies.

…but it goes further than any previous Parliament has gone. It represents real progress in making these products more widely available. This bill is a real step forward that all Government support parties are pleased to sign up to.

In some ways it is a real step forward, or it will be, eventually. But in other ways it is abominable.

If Parliament wants to go further, it has the opportunity when it considers a member’s bill in Chlöe Swarbrick’s name.

When Clark said that he will have known, or at least should have known, that the Swarbrick bill is likely to fail at it’s first vote in Parliament today, so to suggest that as a solution to the inadequacies of his Government bill is embarrassing for him and for Labour.

This bill does offer some progress (in the future) on supply and use of some medical cannabis products, but it is a slap in the face of family and friends of those who are dying and might want some relief, and it ignores the needs and wants of the many people suffering from chronic pain and debilitating illness but not at imminent risk of dying.

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36 Comments

  1. Griff

     /  January 31, 2018

    Stupid law from stupid law makers
    The reefer madness generation should be ashamed.
    I know lawyers teachers and doctors who use cannabis recreationally.
    Most under the age of 60 have had a puff.
    If a law is so disregarded it is a bad law.
    The harm of prohibition is greater than the harm of the drug by any measures.

    I hoped we would make a step towards a rational drug policy instead labour has made a step sideways kickimg the can fowads for the next term of government.

    More life’s destroyed more pain and needless suffering based on little but prperganda and ignorance.

    Common every day pain medication is many times more dangerous to health the the herb is
    Paracetamol with a ld50 of about 25 standard doses is potentially lethal with many attempting suicide by overdosing. Alcohol has a ld50 of about 14 standard doses. Cannabis has no known ld50 estimated at 30,000 standard doses.

    Legalize tax and regulate .
    Minimize harm and treat addiction as a health issue.

    Reply
    • PartisanZ

       /  January 31, 2018

      I’ve said it before Griff, I don’t think its simple ignorance or even ‘buy-in’ to reefer madness.

      This is an issue of post-reform [neoliberal] government, who manage the economy on behalf of corporate ruling elites. This is about cannabis law reform threatening that quasi-stability, more imaged than real.

      The legislation clearly demonstrates how much room to move Labour (or any other government) has been ‘allowed’ with Big Pharma, Liquor Giants and Corporate Big Business Barons [and their Roundtable lobby groups]. You and I don’t have ‘them’ breathing down our necks … well … not directly anyhow …

      This statement by David Clark says it all, “If Parliament wants to go further, it has the opportunity when it considers a member’s bill in Chlöe Swarbrick’s name.”

      “Parliament” and “it” … not the people they represent, who have spoken clearly in polls.

      This is so-called ‘democracy’ divorced from freely elected public representation.

      ‘Democracy’ divorced from democracy.

      Reply
      • Griff

         /  January 31, 2018

        The snarl word neo liberal.
        Griff is/was a long term act supporter.
        Individual’s dont fit neatly nto boxes.
        After years on kb i have come to the conclusion that the right is corrupted by its adherence to ideology over reality.
        This leaves me no alterntive but to vote for the lest worst option.
        Probably TOP in future as they seem to value reality over ideology more than other partys at present.
        My exploration of climate science tells me humanity is heading towards collapse of our present paradigms.
        What takes its place is an ineffable question at this point im time.

        Reply
        • PartisanZ

           /  January 31, 2018

          Centre-Right governments walk a plank availed them by Ruling Elites … Cannabis and Drug Law Reform is beyond the end of that plank, down in the shark-infested ocean.

          Centre-Left governments walk a tightrope …

          I agree about TOP … but how to lift their ‘popularity’ from 2% up to a meaningful figure in this ‘democracy’ is, perhaps, another ineffable question?

          Reply
          • Zedd

             /  January 31, 2018

            @Pz

            Yes politics is driven, often by ‘lobby groups’ pushing their own interests; Status quo on drug policy.. being a large amount (those who rely on it for employment) even if the majority say ‘Its time for change’

            Interestingly the ‘extreme Right’ (ACT) are in support of Cannabis/Drug reform; openly stated by; Brash, Whyte & Seymour ! 🙂

            Reply
            • Kevin

               /  January 31, 2018

              I’m centre-right and I can’t see how anyone who claims to be for individual rights and responsibility can be *against* drug law reform. It’s one of the biggest libertarian issues of our time.

            • PartisanZ

               /  January 31, 2018

              And our current situation makes it one of the biggest ‘liberal’ issues of our times too … which is about the balance of individual rights and responsibilities with *societal* rights and commensurate social responsibilities … ?

    • Kevin

       /  January 31, 2018

      Every heroin death preventable if heroin was legal and regulated.

      Every MDMA death preventable if MDMA was legal and regulated (no one has ever died from using MDMA responsibly.)

      No one has ever died directly from taking LSD, only from taking analogues they thought was LSD. Again, preventable if LSD was legal and regulated.

      Deaths from cannabis: zero.

      Reply
      • Kitty Catkin

         /  January 31, 2018

        Heroin was once legal and people still died of it.

        People die of paracetamol overdoses-a painful death that can’t be stopped once the drug is in the person’s system.

        LSD messes up people’s minds, and it’s hard to imagine why anyone would want this legalised and regulated-regulation doesn’t stop misuse.

        Reply
        • Griff

           /  January 31, 2018

          Alcohol is responsible for crime violent behaviour mental illness and deaths . You can buy enough of this deadly poison to kill a few hundreds down the local shopping center.
          Why do we allow alcohol yet lock up those who choose alternatives?
          Because it is legal is not an answer neither is becuse we have always had it.

          Reply
          • Kitty Catkin

             /  January 31, 2018

            Same answer; having one drug legal is no reason to have others. It’s most unlikely that one could buy enough alcohol to kill hundreds of people at the shopping centre without being questioned-it would be a vast amount. There is also the problem of how to make the hundreds drink enough to kill them.

            Most people don’t drink to excess, but few users of hard drugs would, I think, only take the equivalent of one glass of wine. I have seen enough druggies overseas, out of their heads on whatever it was, to not want whatever they were on freely available.

            I don’t drink at all, by the way.

            Reply
            • Griff

               /  January 31, 2018

              Ld 50 alcohol 14 standard drinks
              That is less than a dozen cans of beer
              You only need to drink it quickly.

              Relative harm.

              Drugs should be rated and regulated on potential harm not we have a drink so it gets a pass we dont like your drugs so we will use the force of the law to stop you using

              Disclaimer
              I drink like I smoke in moderation when appropriate.
              I have never known an actual pot addict who could not stop .
              I have known a few who have been addicted to alcohol.
              Some of them are dead as a result.

            • Kitty Catkin

               /  January 31, 2018

              Yes, but they’d know that they were drinking it, how could they not ? It’s hard to imagine someone downing a dozen beers fast enough to kill themselves. They’d be bloated with the fizz and bursting to have a pee.

              If the hundreds who’d die from this drank 1 dozen tinnies each, that would be a massive amount of beer. One would also have to assemble the hundreds…this wouldn’t happen.

            • Kevin

               /  January 31, 2018

              The biggest difference I see between alcohol and illicit drugs is that you have the equivalent of a glass of wine everyday and not risk. You can’t do that with cannabis and you can’t do that with MDMA. And you definitely can’t do that with heroin. In fact with MDMA it’s recommended that you don’t take it more than three or four times a year, at the most. And believe it or not that’s what most users do because most drug users are responsible. It’s only a minority that are problematic users.

            • Kitty Catkin

               /  January 31, 2018

              Some people cannot have a glass every day risk free; if they need that glass and can’t do without it, they are in trouble. The statement that most drug users only use them infrequently sounds problematic (which means doubtful or dubious) to me.

            • Kevin

               /  January 31, 2018

              @Griff

              With psychedelics there’s a measurement scale based on I think LSD (could be mescaline). Basically if a psychedelic has the same potency as LSD it’s rated 1 on the scale. If it has ten times the potency it’s rated 10 on the scale.

              When cannabis is legalised I’d like to see the same thing applied based on something most people would understand, such as a standard drink. For example, let’s say we call the measurement “IL” for “Intoxication Level”. A cannabis strain with the same intoxicating level as one standard drink per x grams would get an IL rating of 1. A cannabis strain with the same intoxicating level as five standard drinks per the same amount of grams would get an IL rating of 5 etc.

            • Kevin

               /  January 31, 2018

              @kitty

              Check out the stats. Personal observation is dubious as you only see and remember the worst.

        • Kevin

           /  January 31, 2018

          People died from heroin when it was legal because they were negligent – it’s pretty hard to overdose from pure heroin when you know the exact dose you’re taking unless you’re purposefully trying to kill yourself.

          LSD does cause psychosis but the psychosis only lasts as long as the effects of the drug. Permanent LSD-induced psychosis is extremely rare. I’d be willing to bet that you’d find a much higher proportion of people brain-damaged from alcohol abuse.

          Regulation doesn’t stop misuse and no one is saying it does. But prohibition doesn’t stop misuse either. What regulation does is greatly reduce the harm and risk of harm from the drug.

          Reply
          • PartisanZ

             /  January 31, 2018

            … and harm or risk of harm resulting directly from the drug’s illegality!

            Reply
          • Kitty Catkin

             /  January 31, 2018

            I wish that I could believe that,

            The fact that alcohol can cause harm seems to be a weak argument for legalising other things that do.

            Reply
            • PartisanZ

               /  January 31, 2018

              But you believe in freedom of choice Miss Kitty … surely?

            • Kitty Catkin

               /  January 31, 2018

              Paedophiles’ chooose to have sex with children, arsonists choose to light fires, drunk drivers choose to drive drunk…so no, I don’t believe in absolute freedom of choice. I don’t think that violent people have the right to be violent although they do-it’s their choice, one might say.

            • Kevin

               /  January 31, 2018

              The argument I often hear is that alcohol is bad enough why would you want to legalise something else?

              My answer:

              1. Legalisation does not increase misuse.
              2. While there are some who choose to drink *and* smoke weed there are plenty of others who will choose cannabis *instead* of alcohol. In Colorado for example the consumption of alcohol has gone down since cannabis was legalised.

  2. phantom snowflake

     /  January 31, 2018

    It was well known that under the populist John Key, National would use polling by their lap dog David Farrar to decide policy positions. How times have changed. Despite the poll on Medicinal Cannabis by Farrar’s “Curia Market Research Ltd” showing huge support for its legalisation, National are going to bloc vote against Chloe Swarbrick’s bill. What’s changed? Is it the personal views of Social Conservative Dinosaur Bill English? Or political tribalism/visceral hatred for anything sponsored by a Green MP perhaps?

    Reply
    • PartisanZ

       /  January 31, 2018

      Oh Lord, phantom snowflake … let’s start a list –

      – fear of alienating what remains of their aging conservative voter base
      – fear of alienating their big business, ruling elite donors
      – fear of alienating their think-tank lobbyists
      – fear that the plastered-over yawning cracks in our economy will start to show … even more
      – fear and fear and fear and fear and fear …

      Reply
      • PartisanZ

         /  January 31, 2018

        – fear that there won’t be enough criminals to keep the criminal justice industry money-go-round ticking over …

        Reply
        • Kitty Catkin

           /  January 31, 2018

          You are joking. Have you any idea what the cost of keeping someone in prison is ? Or even someone in Home Detention ? Cops earn excellent money-as they should-but what does all that cost the taxpayer ?

          Reply
          • PartisanZ

             /  January 31, 2018

            It’s a government ‘industry’ Miss Kitty, which employs heaps of people and throws many other people on the scrap heap … notably a disproportionate number of brown people …

            To the tune made famous by Air Supply in 1983 …

            “Making *CRIME* … out of nothing at all …”

            A close 2nd to “Total Eclipse of the Heart” …

            Reply
            • Kitty Catkin

               /  January 31, 2018

              The people could be employed elsewhere. I cannot believe that you really think that people are rounded up and imprisoned to keep the warders in work.

            • Zedd

               /  January 31, 2018

              @kitty

              there are many ‘hints, rumors & innuendos’ that the whole WAR on Drugs is about keeping the ‘Prohibition Industry’ employed.. try web search : Harry Anslinger (1st USA Drug Csar) who reportedly started the ‘demonisation of Marihuana’ (sic USA) as a way to keep 1000s of cops, prison guards etc. employed, after the end of Alcohol prohibition in 1933. The ‘Marihuana Tax Act 1937’ did just that. He was the ‘expert witness’ who ‘testified about all the HARM it caused’ at the Govt. hearings. He went on to lead the USA contingent that came up with the ‘UN Single Convention on ‘narcotic drugs’1961, with Cannabis/Marihuana/marijuana at the centre that still exists/drives the prohibition/Fear-mongering even today ! 😦

            • PartisanZ

               /  January 31, 2018

              Sorry to burst your bubble Miss Kitty. Although we don’t have a Thirteenth Amendment like the United States, our society operates surreptitiously in a very similar way … hence the film ’13th’ is most applicable … not to mention sobering … (a reference to the role alcohol plays in the *CRIME & PUNISHMENT* money-go-round) …

      • phantom snowflake

         /  January 31, 2018

        All true, perhaps also too early in the Grief Process to stomach working with that illegitimate “coalition of losers.”

        Reply
        • Kitty Catkin

           /  January 31, 2018

          7% doesn’t sound like a great win to me.

          Reply
          • PartisanZ

             /  January 31, 2018

            A win is a win nonetheless …

            National held power by a slim margin too, didn’t they?

            Reply
  3. PartisanZ

     /  January 31, 2018

    “Like the phony war on terrorism, the phony war on drugs is a cat-and-mouse game being fought with one hand and fed with the other” … @ 17.35 approximately. WARNING, a hefty dose of conspiracy theory also included …

    Reply
  1. Medicinal cannabis bill passes first reading, doesn’t pass the compassionate test — Your NZ – NZ Conservative Coalition

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