Govt’s medicinal cannabis Bill called ‘half baked’

The AM Show 31/01/2018

The medicinal cannabis Bill spearheaded by Green Party MP Chlöe Swarbrick is up for a vote in Parliament on Wednesday.

Ms Swarbrick’s Bill lays the groundwork for a regulated medicinal cannabis industry in New Zealand for terminally ill people to use and grow the plant themselves in their final year of life.  

The Green Party MP joined The AM Show to discuss what the Bill sets out to do for suffering New Zealanders. 

“For a country that prides itself on caring about each other, we’ve been really slow off the mark when it’s come to reform around medicinal cannabis,” she said.

This issue is about people in pain and in suffering.

Ms Swarbrick’s Bill sets to make medicinal cannabis affordable for those who are using it for pain. By allowing people to grow it themselves, Ms Swarbrick says this will significantly cut monthly costs for users.

Another Government-sponsored Bill relating to medicinal cannabis will also be up before Parliament at the same time.  

Two Bills, one called ‘half baked’

Newshub political reporter Lloyd Burr later joined Mark Sainsbury on Morning Talk to discuss the facts on the two cannabis Bills facing Parliament on Wednesday.

The Government is rapidly ticking off its first 100-day checklist, and medicinal cannabis was included in those promises.

Mr Burr describes the first of the two Bills as a “conservative”; that is, a Government-sponsored Bill with support from Labour, the Green Party, and NZ First.

“It doesn’t go that far, really,” Mr Burr told RadioLIVE. “It changes the status quo a little bit but it doesn’t make it easier for doctors to prescribe medicinal marijuana.”

Ms Swarbrick's Bill would allow users to grow their own.

The Newshub political reporter describes Ms Swarbrick’s Bill as “lot more liberal.”

The Bill allows doctors to prescribe cannabis products for pain and allows certain people to grow cannabis themselves.

“They are both being debated at the same time,” he said.

“They’ve done this sort of half-baked policy. Not even half-baked. It’s probably like a fifth-baked medicinal marijuana bill.”

Former Prime Minister Helen Clark threw her support behind Swarbrick’s Bill in late January.

The former leader tweeted about the Bill twice, writing: "Hear NZ MP Chlöe Swarbrick set out compelling case for improving access to #medicinalcannabis..."

Listen to the full interviews with Chlöe Swarbrick and Lloyd Burr above. 

The AM Show with Duncan Garner, Amanda Gillies and Mark Richardson, weekdays 6-9am on RadioLIVE and streaming live to the rova app on Android and iPhone.