Topics: Health, Politics

Govt’s Medicinal Cannabis Bill has first reading at Parliament

By Talisa Kupenga
  • Wellington

Members of Parliament are back in-house today and on the agenda is the Government's Medicinal Cannabis Bill.  It is one of two cannabis bills that will come before Parliament this week.

Labour's Kiri Allan says "I support the Government's Bill. I think it's an important piece of legislation."

Minister for Māori Development Nanaia Mahuta says "I support taking the bill to Select Committee to open the door for further discussion around the topic."

Minister for Whānau Ora Peeni Henare says "I will be looking at the details. I have my concerns because I know the negative impact cannabis can have when it comes to Māori." 

Labour's bill would see a regulated industry enabling the setting of standards of cannabis products as well as allowing terminally ill people to possess and use illicit cannabis.

National Party Health Spokesperson Dr Jonathan Coleman is very clear on his stance on the Bill.

 "The Government's Bill is really going to disappoint people who thought they were going to be able to smoke marijuana to relieve their pain, in an actual fact all it is doing is decriminalising it for a group of people who are using it already."

Dr Coleman describes the second bill, which comes from The Green Party, as "quite loose". It would allow for patients to grow their own marijuana for consumption.

"I'm open-minded about the issues and we've just got to work through them but you've got two extremes there," he says.

Some medicinal cannabis advocates have criticised the Government's Bill as too weak, while others say both bills have their merits.

The Green Party's bill carried by Chloe Swarbrick needs 61 votes and will likely need National Party support to get it over the line. It will have its first reading tomorrow.