Medicinal Cannabis hearing – first day

The first hearings on the Misuse of Drugs (Medicinal Cannabis) Amendment Bill were heard by the health Select Committee in Parliament yesterday.

RNZ: Medicinal Cannabis Bill prompts calls for broader allowances

Under the Misuse of Drugs (Medicinal Cannabis) Amendment Bill before Parliament, only those terminally ill and with a year left to live would have a legal defence against prosecution for illicit marijuana use.

Drug Foundation director, Ross Bell…

…told MPs on the first day of hearings on the Bill that was not good enough. He said the Bill should be extended to also cover those with severe and debilitating conditions.

“Only focusing on terminal patients isn’t good enough, and in reality, the terminal patients aren’t getting arrested by the police but many other patients are. And the way that police use their discretion means that a lot of people are getting prosecuted still.”

Mr Bell said the same statutory protection should also extend to those who support patients.

“The so-called green fairies, people that will be administering the medicine or even cultivating the medicine, you know. And I think again you’re going to hear stories of people who are on their deathbed or are severely physically limited that they can’t access the medicine, they can’t even administer the medicine.”

Green MP Chloe Swarbrick…

…has backed the Misuse of Drugs (Medicinal Cannabis) Amendment Bill, but she also identified gaps, saying legal protection for the terminally ill stopped short of what is needed.

“That doesn’t address access, it doesn’t address availability, it doesn’t address the quality of the product and it certainly doesn’t address affordability.

“We’re all quite aware of the gaping black hole that presently exists”.

“I’m aware that my Bill was evidently voted down because people were concerned about the provision, the so-called ‘grow-your-own’ provision, but what we have right here is people still needing to get access to cannabis illegally. Somebody has to grow it.”

“We currently have a situation where police on the frontlines are being quite open about the fact that they are defacto decriminalising the use of cannabis for medicinal reasons or recreational reasons or otherwise. What we are – as the Green Party – concerned about there is that there is no rule of law.”

The College of General Practitioners…

…said doctors want the best for their patients, but clinical trials and Medsafe approval are needed before medicinal cannabis is made more widely available.

Asked if those with chronic illnesses should be included in legal protection, the college president, Tim Malloy, said doctors would struggle with who that would cover.

“That’s going to be the issue. It’s not whether this applies to them or not, it’s how do you define it and what are the criteria and what do you have to have tried beforehand. So there’s a whole body of work that needs to be done to define that for us.”

GPs also said they wanted health equity, and part of the reason for the Bill was to improve access to beneficial treatments, including the potential for medicinal cannabis.

“There is an equity issue here as Pharmac does not currently fund Sativex and most people would not be able to afford it — a thousand dollars a month — without funding.”

Shane Le Brun of the Medical Cannabis Awareness New Zealand charity…

…said those most at risk of being prosecuted for illicit cannabis use were not the terminally ill at all.

“I’m quite plugged in with who’s getting busted by the police and it’s not terminal patients. There’s no one who’s two months from death’s door that has the police knocking on their door, so that whole part of the Bill was actually toothless.”

Mr Le Brun also questioned whether others who were very ill but not near death needed medicinal cannabis for pain relief too.

“Are we happy with really sick people to be hauled before the courts for growing something that helps them, especially when the legal options cost thousands of dollars a month?”

Shane has done a heap of very good work on this issue, and is busy networking with those of possible influence on the Bill.

On demand video of submissions and future live streaming: Health Select Committee (Facebook)

4 Comments

  1. Zedd

     /  April 5, 2018

    All good points.. obviously there is a large portion of NZ society who think the bill is ‘piss weak’ & want to see it go much further, as in rest of OECD; Canada was spec. referenced.. they have had medicinal use since 2001 & the sky has not fallen !

    btw; I wrote a submission, saying IF they are so terrified of allowing it to be licensed & grown here, there are many other ‘approved products’ available from these other countries, besides ‘Sativex’ (GW Pharma) inc. ‘Bedrocan’.. the raw herb, grown from know strains in clean room green houses & packaged with percentages of active ingredients listed.

    It just seems that all the talk from this new Govt. about ‘law reform in first 100 days’ was just a tiny gap.. we need to force the door open & allow sick people to access the drug, that works under regulation/prescription from a GP.

    I get so fed up with all the B-S that seems to say that Cannabis (Class B/C) as more harmful than already legally available Opiates (Class A) “FEAR-MONGERING to the Max !” sez I

    Cannabis is not a totally harmless drug/plant, but it is not ‘The Devils harvest’ OR ‘The plant with its roots in hell’ or any other of the Reefer Madness nonsense that still echoes in NZ today !!

    Its Time to cut out all the crap & get with the program folks.. its 2018 & Aotearoa/NZ is really lagging behind the rest of the OECD on this issue.. why is there such ingrained TERROR of REAL change ?
    OR is there really ‘another agenda’ at work here, that is halting progress ?? ie The PROHIBITION Industry 😦

    • Zedd

       /  April 5, 2018

      btw PG

      “Thx for the opportunity to ‘vent my spleen’ on this totally ridiculous situation.. that still persists in NZ” 🙂

    • Kevin

       /  April 5, 2018

      The purpose of the Bill is to make it much more difficult for medical cannabis to be legalised. Allowing terminal ill patients to have a joint is only temporary and will be removed once locally produced CBD medicine is available. Don’t be deceived. Its a prohibitionist piece of legislation.

      • PartisanZ

         /  April 5, 2018

        Totally agree Kevin …

        I submitted that it was ‘Clayton’s Legislation’ and that Labour will look foolish if it’s passed in its current form …

        I submitted that the ‘coalition affirming’ thing to do was to amalgamate it with Chloe Swarbrick’s Green Party Amendment Bill in its entirety, with just a couple of exceptions …

        One: For some incomprehensible reason the Greens had narrowed ‘terminal illness’ down to just SIX MONTHS! So use Labour’s 12 month timeframe here … The inclusion of Debilitating Illness [can’t remember the Greens exact wording] and Chronic Pain into the Bill mostly circumvents the rather absurd terminal illness clause anyhow …

        Two: The Greens’ Bill has the only record of ‘Support Person Cultivators’ being held by Doctors. I submitted that the sensible way to short circuit the Police’s opposition – on the grounds of them not being able to identify who was permitted to cultivate cannabis – is for Police to be notified of Support Persons and also hold those records.