Confusion over medical cannabis bill

It turns out that National’s pulling of their support for the Misuse of Drugs (Medicinal Cannabis) Amendment Bill was a prelude to them announcing an alternative bill that is subject to being drawn from the members’ ballot – National puts forward medicinal cannabis regime.

Then the Health Committee published its report on the Misuse of Drugs (Medicinal Cannabis) Amendment Bill – Final report (Misuse of Drugs (Medicinal Cannabis) Amendment Bill) [PDF 595k]

Recommendation

The Health Committee has examined the Misuse of Drugs (Medicinal Cannabis) Amendment Bill. We have been unable to reach agreement and therefore cannot recommend that the bill proceed.

That sparked a lot of angst until it was sort of explained that the bill would still proceed, unchanged and without a recommendation of the committee. Or something like that.

Perhaps this will have been properly clarified by the morning.

In the meantime here’s a speech in parliament by the youngest MP, who also happens to sound more sensible than the rest on how to deal with cannabis law.

CHLÖE SWARBRICK (Green): It’s a pleasure to rise to take the call after that speech from the Leader of the Opposition with regards to positive solutions, particularly on the topic of cannabis. I just want to lay it out in this general debate speech here how we got here and what issues we’re actually talking about when we speak to the issue of cannabis.

I want to demarcate for the public out there that may be listening the two separate issues of recreational and medicinal cannabis. I think this is really important because so often they end up conflated in the public discussion.

The issue of recreational cannabis is one that will be dealt with in the context of our commitment negotiated in the confidence and supply agreement between the Green Party and the Labour Party, with a referendum on adult recreational use on or by 2020 that I’m very proud to be working with the Minister of Justice, Andrew Little, on. He’s demonstrated his incredible responsiveness on a number of proposals that we’ve put forward with regard to its design, including the likes of citizens juries.

So today the predominant focus of this call that I’m taking will be on medicinal cannabis. Alleviating the pain and suffering of patients and their whānau denied access to legal medicinal cannabis requires urgent, open, and collaborative cross-party action. That’s because patients deserve a guarantee of access—affordable, consistent supply. We’re talking here about people’s lives, not just facts and figure on statistical sheets.

I want to read some of the thousands—literally thousands—of stories that have come through my office in the past few months. One is from Jasmine:

“My name is Jasmine. I am 28 years old and I am my father’s caregiver. My dad sustained a neurotoxic brain injury via his occupation in 2001 and has a degenerative spinal condition. He suffers from a range of medical problems, including severe mental illness, nerve damage, and inability to walk or stand unaided for more than a few minutes. He spends most of his life confined to a bed and will soon require a wheelchair.

“Cannabis allows my father many benefits that cannot be obtained with the use of any other single drug, without the risk of heavy addiction or chemical interactions with his other medications.

“This man is a pensioner who contributed 30 years of his life to the workforce, raised two children, was permanently injured and made to fight for rightful compensation, had his wife taken by cancer, and, due to current legislation, is a criminal who will face two years minimum prison sentence should the police ever wish to search our property. My father wants nothing more from what life he has left than peace and quiet and to be left alone.”

Yesterday the New Zealand Drug Foundation’s annual poll was released, demonstrating that in the last 12 months there’s been a near – 10 percentage point increase in public support—87 percent of New Zealanders support growing and/or using cannabis for any medical reasons such as to alleviate pain.

Look, I know that correlation does not imply causation, but the most deeply related event that has occurred in the last year is absolutely the public debate that occurred around my medicinal cannabis member’s bill in January, which attracted support from diverse quarters such as past Prime Minister Helen Clark and, of course, the likes of Grey Power.

This member’s bill was, however, voted down. On the night, I said that we had not won the battle but that we were winning the war—the war that is so crucial for patients, for people who are suffering under a demonstrably unfit for purpose status quo.

The Government’s more restrictive bill did, however, pass with unanimous support. Today the Health Committee has reported it back to the House, and it does not, unfortunately, recommend the changes asked for by submitters.

The Greens will continue to push for those changes, for the patient voice to be central, which brings me to the National Party member’s bill introduced today. I am stoked that they have come around to the idea of a comprehensive, common-sense medicinal cannabis framework. But, to be honest, I’m still quite perplexed that they voted down the similar scope that was before the House six months ago.

All the while, patients have been in pain and suffering. We do, however, wholeheartedly invite the seeming change in tune for a progressive medicinal cannabis scheme, and we look forward to continuing to work across the House collaboratively for the betterment of patients.

 

5 Comments

  1. Zedd

     /  July 25, 2018

    just wrote a few comments in open forum 🙂

  2. Zedd

     /  July 25, 2018

    “Go Chloe.. you good thing !”
    The voice of reason, from one of the youngest MPs.. stop playing politics & get on with it !!

  3. Chuck Bird

     /  July 25, 2018

    Jasmine, 2 years minimum jail is BS. Chloe should see this. She is stupid or does not care about the truth.

  4. Alan Wilkinson

     /  July 25, 2018

    National adopts a strategy that makes the Greens seem rational and sensible by comparison. Bizarre.

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