Health minister David Clark says thousands of New Zealanders will potentially benefit from the Government’s medicinal cannabis legislation.
The Misuse of Drugs (Medicinal Cannabis) Amendment Bill passed its third reading in Parliament this afternoon and will soon become law.
“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,” David Clark said.