Medicinal cannabis to ease suffering

  • Hon Dr David Clark

Health Minister Dr David Clark says making medicinal cannabis more readily available will help relieve the suffering of people who are dying in pain.

Legislation is being introduced today to deliver on the Government’s 100 Day Plan commitment to make medicinal cannabis more available to people with terminal illnesses or chronic pain.

“Many New Zealanders will have watched a loved one struggling with a terminal illness.  Medicinal cannabis gives them another option to find relief and make the most of the time left to them.

“There is increasing evidence to support the use of medicinal cannabis. Just last week, the World Health Organization noted that cannabidiol could have therapeutic value and did not carry any addiction risks.”

The Misuse of Drugs Amendment Bill being introduced today will:

•    Introduce a medicinal cannabis scheme to enable access to quality products

•    Introduce a statutory defence for terminally ill people to possess and use illicit cannabis

•    Remove cannabidiol from the schedule of controlled drugs

“In time, this legislation will result in a greater supply of quality medicinal cannabis, including products made here in New Zealand.

“However, there will be people who can’t wait. So as an interim measure the legislation will create a legal defence for possession and use of illicit cannabis for people who are expected by their doctors to be in their last year of life. This does not make it legal for the terminally ill to use cannabis, but it means that they will not be criminalised for doing so.

“New Zealanders are a compassionate people. Medicinal cannabis products can help ease suffering and we should make it easier for people to get them.”