Changes signalled to medicinal cannabis legislation

Health Minister Dr David Clark says proposed changes to the Government’s medicinal cannabis legislation will mean more people can get access to medicinal cannabis faster.  

“This legislation will greatly increase availability of quality medicinal cannabis products, and will allow for their domestic manufacture. It will mean many New Zealanders living in pain will have another option to find relief.”

During the second reading of the Misuse of Drugs (Medicinal Cannabis) Amendment Bill, Dr Clark outlined planned amendments which will be introduced via a Supplementary Order Paper (SOP) during the Committee Stage.

The SOP will:

  • Alter the eligibility for people who can use the statutory defence for the use of illicit cannabis so that it covers people in palliation (rather than limiting it to the terminally ill in their last 12 months)
  • Set a requirement for the regulations for the Medicinal Cannabis Scheme to be made no later than a year after the law comes into effect
  • Make clear that varieties of cannabis that are already in New Zealand can be used for medicinal products 
  • Make technical changes to the description of allowable THC thresholds in CBD medicinal products

“The statutory defence for people who are nearing the end of their live to possess or use illicit cannabis is a compassionate measure to ease suffering and improve quality of life. 

“I want to acknowledge New Zealand First for advocating strongly for the defence to be extended to cover anyone in palliation. To put that in perspective, each year about 25,000 New Zealanders could benefit from palliative care.

“Similarly, the Green Party pushed for a requirement to finalise regulations for the Medicinal Cannabis Scheme. This will speed up access to a greater range of quality medicinal cannabis products – and it gives those companies looking to develop those products certainty and a clear timeframe.

“These changes strengthen the law and will make it easier for people to get the relief they need. I want to thank both New Zealand First and the Green Party for their constructive approach on this legislation,” says David Clark.