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Green MP's Cannabis Bill Defeated

A Bill proposing decriminalising cannabis for medicinal use has been defeated at its first reading.

The Misuse of Drugs (Medicinal Cannabis and Other Matters) Amendment Bill was voted down with 47 for and 73 against with no abstentions.

The bill in the name of Chlöe Swarbrick proposed amending the Misuse of Drugs Act to make an exemption for a person with a qualifying medical condition to cultivate, possess or use cannabis plant for therapeutic purposes, provided they have the support of a registered medical practitioner.

The exemption for cultivation and possession would also apply to an immediate relative or any other person nominated by the person with such a diagnosis, for administering or supplying cannabis to the person.

A number of MPs who said they had sympathy for the bill’s intentions said it was too permissive and would have created de facto decriminalisation.

They argued there was a need for some form of regulation and a Government bill sent to select committee on Tuesday would create a regime which could be expanded and possibly expanded.

All MPs agreed yesterday to send the Misuse of Drugs (Medicinal Cannabis) Amendment Bill to the Health committee for consideration. The Bill creates a statutory defence for terminally ill people to possess and use illegal cannabis.

Those in favour of the Swarbrick bill said, amongst other things, the current prohibition was not working, and cannabis use was common place. They said making criminals out of people who would benefit medicinally was wrong and unsustainable.

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