The Government has passed its medicinal cannabis bill, which will legalise medicinal cannabis in New Zealand.
Health Minister Dr David Clark says thousands of New Zealanders will potentially benefit from the new legislation.
“Ultimately, this legislation will greatly increase availability of quality medicinal cannabis products, and will allow for their domestic manufacture. It will help people ease their suffering by making a wider range of quality medicinal cannabis products available over time.
“Today’s vote in Parliament clears the way for the creation of a medicinal cannabis scheme that will allow New Zealand companies to manufacture medicinal cannabis products for both the local and international market.
"Regulations, licensing rules and quality standards will be set on expert advice within a year of the law coming into effect.
“These medicinal products will be available on prescription. This will be particularly welcome as another option for people who live with chronic pain.
"Additionally the Bill removes cannabidiol as a controlled drug, so it becomes a prescription medicine.
“We know that some people cannot wait for medicinal products to become more readily available and will want to use illicit cannabis to ease their pain.
“People nearing the end of their lives should not have to worry about being arrested or imprisoned for trying to manage their pain. So as a compassionate measure we are also creating a statutory defence for people eligible to receive palliation so that they can use illicit cannabis without fear of prosecution.”
Palliation is about alleviating pain and suffering for a person with an advanced progressive life limiting condition. The statutory defence will be available to approximately 25,000 New Zealanders who could benefit from palliative care.
“This is compassionate and caring legislation that will make a real difference to people living in pain and nearing the end of their lives. I’m proud that as a Government, Labour, New Zealand First and the Green Party made this a 100 day priority – and have passed this legislation within a year of first announcing it."
New Zealand First has announced its support.
Health spokesperson Jenny Marcroft says this Bill takes a compassionate approach to the use of medicinal cannabis and to those dying in terrible pain it will make a real difference.
“New Zealand First promoted the inclusion of anyone in palliation rather than those who are defined as terminally ill, as was originally drafted.
“This was an important language change. We felt that the term palliation was more appropriate. Those requiring palliation are seriously ill, and the focus of treatment is on improving their quality of life.
“This change means that the number of people the defence will apply to could be as many as 25,000 individuals.
“New Zealand First celebrates the collaborative work and consensus which was reached, and thanks the Health Minister for his efforts."