Police want delay in cannabis legislation

The medical cannabis legislation introduced by the incoming Government would give people who are dying a legal out clause from using cannabis, but would keep it a crime to grow or supply them with cannabis, posing some legal difficulties.

There were signs the bill was rushed to fir within Labour’s 100 days commitment.  It is now being reported that the police opposed this approach.

RNZ: Police asked for delay on cannabis legislation

The Health Minister pushed ahead with giving full legal protection to the terminally ill to use cannabis, despite advice from the police asking for that particular provision to be delayed.

The legislation currently before Parliament, means anyone terminally ill will not have to rely on the discretion of the police or the courts if they’re caught with cannabis.

If their case gets to court they can present certification from their practitioner to avoid prosecution.

Under the Bill the definition of “terminally ill” is that someone is likely to only have about 12 months to live.

Official papers obtained by RNZ show there were conflicting views among government agencies about how far the medicinal cannabis bill should go.

They show while the police supported giving terminally ill people “reassurance” they would not be prosecuted, in principle, they wanted the statutory defence deferred.

Police wanted to “ensure any legislative provision was workable” and that it would not create “unintended consequences”.

The proposed legal situation would be messy.

However, Health Minister David Clark disagreed.

“The police suggested deferring because they’re concerned about how these things are to be policed – that’s their job – we of course are concerned to be compassionate in our response.”

Futhermore, the Justice Ministry said it was a “concern” there was not legal protection for other people getting cannabis on behalf of someone who was terminally ill.

Clark dismissed this, saying he expected the Police to turn a blind eye to supplying, but that would put the police in a difficult situation.

Dr Clark said it was too difficult to extend the defence further, including defining exactly who would be supplying the cannabis in the broader network.

“And we preferred to favour the terminally ill and try to restrict, where possible, the supply of cannabis.”

More likely it was too difficult for Labour to get NZ First to agree to extend the defence further.

Nelson lawyer Sue Grey has represented many people charged with obtaining or possessing cannabis for medicinal purposes, and argued friends and family should also have the full legal protection.

“Because the sickest people can’t supply themselves and to put their family under that intense pressure of prosecution for helping a dying or sick person is just completely unfair and unjustified.”

The proposed ‘solution’ is poor.

…the Health Ministry opposed the defence for friends and family saying that would “significantly broaden the proposal”.

And it argued it could have unintended consequences:

“A person could set up a business supplying illicit cannabis to terminally ill people and argue that the exception and statutory defence cover this activity.”

So instead, people on their death bed are supposed to wish that some cannabis to relieve their suffering will fall out of the sky into their laps.

Yes, an unintended consequence of sensible legislation could mean that some non-dying cannabis users may find it a bit easier to source some product for relief. That would hardly be calamitous – cannabis use is unlikely to significantly change with sensible law changes, except for those who are suffering and want some relief.

All they can do now is suffer, or load themselves up on prescription drugs or alcohol, which cannot be any worse than a bit of cannabis.

Leave a comment


  1. PartisanZ

     /  20th February 2018

    Police State … Police obstruction … Colour me surprised!

    So: What is our current ‘society-wide alcohol carnage’ problem an unintended consequence of?

    • Zedd

       /  20th February 2018

      More fear-mongering.. to protect the status quo; Gangs V Cops.. DRUG WAR mentality still front of their agenda !!
      The ‘unintended consequences’ they are most concerned about is Police/Drug Squad Job losses

      All their talk of ‘Harm reduction’ is TOTAL B-S.. Prohibition causes most of the alleged ‘Drug related harm’; Criminalising folks for minor possession/use, even for Med-use 😦

      • Zedd

         /  20th February 2018

        The other ‘unintended consequence’ of the DRUG WAR is the massive Black-market.. use rates are actually higher in many countries that maintain Zero-tolerance (eg NZ) thx to this B-S prohibition agenda, that actually does almost nothing to stop drug use or reduce harm; check UNODC (UN Office Drugs Crime) stats.. NZ has amongst highest use levels per capita & arrest rates (keeping Cops VERY busy indeed)

  2. Absolute bollocks. It’s simple. Decriminalise all marijuana personal usage

    • Zedd

       /  20th February 2018


      The ‘Reeferendum’ is coming (supposedly) in 2020.. but in the interim, Med-use needs to be addressed ASAP

      • Kevin

         /  21st February 2018

        The bill is just a warm up. The referendum is where the battle will be won or lost. Make no mistake Zedd, it is going to be a war. For Prohibitionists this is a matter of life of death and they will stop at nothing to make sure the referendum doesn’t pass. They will lie, they will spend millions of dollars, they will try and play on the public’s emotions. But we have something on our side that they don’t – the facts.

  3. Zedd

     /  20th February 2018

    I wrote about this yesterday, in ‘Media watch’.. also recently sent a submission to the Health Select committee, on the Govt. bill (closes 21/3/18)

    • PartisanZ

       /  20th February 2018

      Good on ya Zedd!

      • Zedd

         /  20th February 2018

        Thx PZ..
        I also call on ALL folks who support, some level of Cannabis reform to do likewise; write a submission, even if it is just a sentence or two; or better still a few pages 🙂

  4. Bill

     /  20th February 2018

    It’s way past the time that the witch hunt against Cannabis users should have ended.Speaking for myself I don’t care if it’s use is to lighten the burden and enjoy it socially, or the many benefits enjoyed by those of us with chronic illness.

    While I’m happy there’s a Cannabis bill in front of parliament, this particular bill only favours death and sadly ignores the living. The human condition is a terminal one and to put forward the premise that Cannabis is only safe for those with only months to live, is ridiculous.


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