New Zealand: Government’s Medicinal Cannabis Bill Too Weak, GPs Should Be Able To Prescribe To Anyone Who Needs It

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Grey Power’s National President says the government’s bill to decriminalize medicinal cannabis for the terminally ill does not go far enough.

In changes proposed By Health Minister David Clark in the Misuse of Drugs (Medicinal Cannabis) Amendment Bill, terminally ill people will have a statutory legal defense for smoking cannabis medicinally if they have less than 12 months to live and a doctor’s approval.

It will also amend the Misuse of Drugs Act 1975 so that cannabidiol (CBD) – a pharmaceutical grade medicinal cannabis product – is no longer classified as a controlled drug.

Grey Power National President Tom O’Connor, speaking on TVNZ 1’s Breakfast today, said his organization is of the view that if a GP prescribes it, one should not have to be terminally ill to gain access to cannabis products.

“If your GP decides you need cannabis-based pharmaceuticals, that should be his decision,” Mr O’Connor said.

He said the products should be “freely available” and that the government’s Bill does not go far enough.

Green Party MP Chloe Swarbrick has also introduced a Bill on medicinal cannabis, which has gained Grey Power’s support, as well as that of former Prime Minister Helen Clark.

Ms Swarbrick’s Misuse of Drugs (Medicinal Cannabis and Other Matters) Amendment Bill would not only decriminalize it, but legalize the use of cannabis or cannabis products for people suffering a terminal or debilitating condition, with the support of a medical practitioner.

Mr O’Connor said both bills have their merits, and he suggested the MPs debate both, but throw his support behind the Green Party Bill.

Both Bills are in their first reading.