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Medicinal cannabis campaign welcomes new Government Bill

20 DECEMBER 2017

Medicinal cannabis campaign welcomes new Government Bill

Campaigners for medicinal cannabis law reform have welcomed the new legislation to be introduced today by Health Minister David Clark.

"This is a step in the right direction but we want more," said Chris Fowlie, spokesperson for NORML, New Zealand's longest established cannabis law reform organisation. “Patients desperately need safe legal access to medicinal cannabis, and so we welcome anything that helps achieve that."

"A patient-focused Bill would go further, but if NZ First are reluctant to support those of their constituents suffering from conditions such as arthritis, then what the Government is intending to do is at least an improvement, said Mr Fowlie. "However, the Green Party Member's Bill is certainly better.”

"In early media reports, the Prime Minister and Minister of Health have acknowledged that the legislation does not go as far as the medicinal cannabis community would like," said Rebecca Reider. "We're grateful that they understand patients' concerns, and hope that they will additionally support the Greens' existing member's Bill, which would bring full relief to the patients nationwide who are currently living in fear of criminal prosecution."

“We think the test of any proposed law is to ask: What would Helen Kelly do?" said Mr Fowlie. "Helen was an activist for safe and affordable access to botanical cannabis, including the choice for patients or caregivers to grow their own like a herbal remedy.”

“Medicinal cannabis is not a Trojan Horse, as claimed today by the reactionary lobby group Family First," said Nandor Tanczos. "The Government had already promised a referendum on the broader issue of cannabis law reform so this is not about that. It's about showing some compassion to patients who are suffering because they are denied access to a medicine that works for them. You'd think so-called Christians would get that.”

"After nine years of denial and obstruction from the previous government, it's heartening to see National's Jonathan Coleman now calling for more comprehensive law reform, including access to what they term 'loose leaf' cannabis," said Rebecca Reider. "Green MP Chlöe Swarbrick's Bill does this, so we look forward to National MPs supporting both Bills in the House."

NORML has campaigned for cannabis law reform in New Zealand, including for medicinal use, since 1980. Approximately half our members use cannabis medicinally, reflecting official Ministry of Health figures that show 42 per cent of all cannabis users, or one-in-twenty Kiwis, use cannabis for therapeutic reasons.

At our 2017 AGM held in November, NORML adopted a four-point model for good medicinal cannabis law reform:
Patient focused: safe affordable access to botanical cannabis

Immediate effect(not just a long-term development pathway)

Domestic production: via licenced providers, including small scale providers (families & individuals)


-ENDS-


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