Swarbrick medicinal cannabis fails, promises made

As expected MPs failed to represent the majority of New Zealanders and voted against the Swarbrick Misuse of Drugs (Medicinal Cannabis and Other Matters) Amendment Bill.

Even the few National MP’s who were granted special permission (in a fucking conscience vote!) to vote for the bill decided not to back a dead horse – but some of them  have made assurances they will work on fixing the pathetic Government bill that purports to address the issues.

In her opening and closing speeches in the first reading Chloe Swarbrick tried to promote the bill but seemed to resigned to failure.

A number of MPs pointed to the Government bill, already past it’s first reading, as a way of trying to get something decent and compassionate for the people of New Zealand, but that will require some work.

Ex Minister of Health Jonathan Coleman (National):

So much as I’m critical of this current Government and much as they also left a lot out of the bill that was before the House yesterday, what that bill yesterday had was a regulation-making power, and that regulation-making power in the Government bill sets the groundwork for a regulatory scheme to create a market place that will increase the access for people who need medicinal cannabis products, and it will mean that they can get products that have been approved on the basis of the available evidence to help relieve their debilitating conditions. That is the way to go.

The other thing about the Government bill is the select committee process will allow all those who have an interest in this particular bill to submit to the select committee and have their case heard. So I think—much as I’m no fan of this Government—that the bill that the Government brought to the House yesterday will enable that public discussion that thousands of New Zealanders wish to have.

I hope MPs listen to the people far better than they have on the Swarbrick bill.

Greg O’Connor (Labour):

What the Government bill that went to select committee yesterday has done is it has bought us time, which will allow us to address many of the issues that have been brought up here today.

Actually the Government bill was rushed to beat Labour’s 100 day deadline and addresses the issues poorly.

But it will mean that when we move forward, we get it right. We don’t have to recreate. We don’t have to reinvent the wheel. It’s been done. We pride ourselves on being world leaders on this, and we can.

New Zealand doesn’t lead, it trails Australia, it trails the US, it trails Canada, it is badly behind progress elsewhere in the world on cannabis law reform.

What I implore the House and my fellow members to do is don’t send this to select committee. Let’s get it right, let’s start with a blank bit of paper, and let New Zealand end up with a highly workable cannabis regime that makes it safe for our children and for all those in the future, and, most importantly, that gets it out of the hands of criminals.

Odd comments. The Government bill is already in place, and it’s screwed paper. But at least it’s a toe in the Parliament door.

Dr Liz Craig (Labour) supported the bill, but expressed some concerns.

So why am I supporting it to select committee? I think the first thing is that so many people around the country have been in touch. There’s a real sense out there that people want their voices heard, and I think select committee will allow us to do that.

The other thing is that we saw that the Government’s own bill passed its first reading yesterday and will go to select committee. I think that bill will address a lot of the issues that people in the community are raising, but what I would like to see is some formal discussion about whether and how much further we can go beyond people that have got a terminal illness. So that’s why I’d like that looked at in that select committee process.

So for me I think we need to have that debate. We need to have people to be able to put forward their views, and we need to think about the broader extension, but I think a lot of those other issues need to be sorted out at select committee so that we’ve got a safe, high quality product and we know who’s going to get the benefit from it, but we’ve got to step back from causing further harm.

Nikki Kay (National):

So I’m faced with two bills that have come before this Parliament. Both of them are flawed. One goes too far and one does too little. So that is the dilemma that I have, and I actually believe there are many members of Parliament in this House that have the same dilemma. And this is why I am conflicted. I want to acknowledge the work that you have done.

I will not be voting for the legislation this evening, but what I am committed to doing, with other members of Parliament—and I know from the conversations that I’ve had in the last 24 hours. I’m not going to cross the floor on a bill that I know, even with my vote from the National Party, we don’t have the numbers for.

It shouldn’t have been necessary to ‘cross the floor’, it was supposed to be a conscience vote. Not allowing National MPs a conscience should weigh heavily on Bill English’s conscience.

But what I will do is I will work with Chlӧe Swarbrick, I will work with the Prime Minister, I will work with those other members in New Zealand First that want change around those people who have chronic pain or debilitating conditions to provide greater access for either cannabis products or loose leaf.

And I think we can do that with the existing Government bill, and that is what I will be campaigning for, and I commit to working with you, Chlӧe, and other members of the House—to try and deliver that. It has been one of the toughest political decisions that I have ever had to make. But I want to then finally speak to the people in the gallery but also the people that are watching tonight. It’s very easy to look at parliamentarians and think they don’t care. That is not my experience of this place. People do care. And there is a pathway through, and I’ll be fighting for that.

I hope she does fight for that.

Nicky Wagner (National):

So, in summary, National certainly supports the use of the therapeutic cannabis-based products for their patients, but we cannot support this bill. Yesterday we voted for the Government’s bill as a stop-gap, but with the clear expectation that the Government will work efficiently, well, and urgently to set up the medicinal cannabis scheme as promised—a scheme that can deliver secure access for patients, that can deliver consistent and assured quality control for the product, affordability, and a safe, well-managed supply chain.

Chris Bishop (National):

So when we come to the two bills that have come to the House on successive days, we talk about David Clark’s bill. That does one very worthy thing and one thing the previous Government had already done, and is utterly silent on the very worthy thing it purports to do…

What the bill doesn’t do is establish a regulatory scheme to actually establish medicinal cannabis in New Zealand. It says it does, but it doesn’t. We have to wait at least two years for that to happen.

So then we come to this bill. Now, it, too, is inadequate. Members have canvassed, on this side and the other side as well, a lot of deficiencies. It does not set up any sort of regulated market for medicinal marijuana. There are no controls on production and supply. It will not give doctors any confidence—and this is a very important point—about prescribing medicinal marijuana. The qualifying criteria, as my colleague Shane Reti pointed out, are too broad. So it was a difficult decision, but I have decided to vote against the bill.

Ultimately, I want a conversation about wider access to medicinal marijuana and how we can design a world’s best practice regulatory regime for New Zealand. The appropriate place for that is at the select committee, the Health Committee, that considers the Government bill that purports to establish that scheme.

I also, and this is very important, want the voices of those with chronic pain to be heard and listened to. Again, the right place for this is at select committee, and as part of designing a good regulatory regime we must listen to the thousands of New Zealanders out there who get therapeutic value from medicinal cannabis.

I thought Greg O’Connor made a very important point in his contribution to the debate. Let’s get this right, through the Government bill that sets up at least the starting point to, over the next couple of years, and I suspect beyond as well, through Government consultation and through engagement with this side of the House—because I think there is good-hearted support, as you’ve heard from members on the National side tonight, for a robust regulatory regime that allows people who gain therapeutic value from medicinal marijuana products to use them. But let’s get this right.

I’ll be looking to Bishop, Kaye and others to work hard on at least improving the Government bill. It’s the least they should do after failing to support the Swarbrick bill at least to Select Committee.

Full transcript of the first reading

 

E-cigarettes/vaping to become legal

E-cigarettes have been available in New Zealand but illegally. Authorities seem to have ignored illegal sales.

The Government has just announced that they will be made legal. Research on risks is ‘still developing’ but using them is seen as safer than smoking tobacco so is a less unhealthy alternative.

Vaping products won’t be subject to the same excise tax that makes tobacco so expensive.

They won’t be able to be used in non-smoking areas.

Nicotine e-cigarettes to become legal

Associate Health Minister Nicky Wagner today announced the sale of nicotine e-cigarettes and e-liquid will be made legal with appropriate controls.

“Scientific evidence on the safety of e-cigarettes is still developing but there’s a general consensus that vaping is much less harmful than smoking,” Ms Wagner says.

“The Government is taking a cautious approach by aligning the regulations around vaping with those for cigarettes. This ensures cigarette smokers have access to a lower-risk alternative while we continue to discourage people from smoking or vaping in the first place.”

New rules for all e-cigarettes, whether or not they contain nicotine, include:

Restricting sales to those 18 years and over Prohibiting vaping in indoor workplaces and other areas where smoking is banned under the Smoke-free Environments Act Restricting advertising to limit the attraction of e-cigarettes to non-smokers, especially children and young people.

“This is an opportunity to see if restricted access to e-cigarettes and e-liquid can help lower our smoking rates, reduce harm and save lives,” Ms Wagner says.

“The Government is strongly committed to achieving our goal of a smoke-free New Zealand by 2025.”

All vaping products will need to meet quality and safety standards. The Ministry of Health will set up a technical advisory group to help define these standards.

A regulatory regime will also be established so the Ministry can consider whether other emerging tobacco and nicotine-delivery products should be regulated as consumer products in future.

“Public consultation showed a strong appetite for change so the Government is looking to introduce an amendment to the Smoke-free Environments Act this year. The changes will likely come into force later in 2018,” Ms Wagner says.

The Ministry of Health will continue to monitor the evidence concerning e-cigarettes and other emerging tobacco and nicotine-delivery products.

Some are happy with this, like David Seymour and ACT:

Government adopts ACT’s vape policy

ACT Leader David Seymour has welcomed the Government’s decision to legalise nicotine e-liquid without excise tax.

“Nicky Wagner’s office has confirmed to mine that nicotine e-cigarettes won’t be subject to excise tax. It’s the outcome ACT has been advocating for.

“This is huge win for smokers looking for a safer alternative. It’s a loss for the public health wowsers who seek to stigmatise any personal habits they disagree with.

“Excise tax on tobacco continues to be a serious burden on the families of smokers, and disproportionately hurts poorer New Zealanders who are more likely to smoke. The Government needs to reverse its recent extreme tax hikes, but in the meantime it’s good that smokers are free to access a better option.”

But not everyone is enthusiastic.

1 News: Nicotine e-cigarettes ‘just another ploy by tobacco companies’ -Tariana Turia

Many have hailed the move, but Ms Turia said the nicotine content was still a downside.

“I think it’s just another ploy by the tobacco companies. they’ve still got nicotine in them you know to keep people that addicted,” she said.

Hone Harawira has also had a grizzle about it.