Helen Clark backs Chloe Swarbrick's medicinal cannabis bill ahead of Labour's legislation

Former prime minister Helen Clark is backing Green MP Chloe Swarbrick's bill to improve access to medicinal cannabis, ahead of the Labour-led Government's own bill.

The former Labour leader tweeted that Chloe Swarbrick has set out a compelling case for improving access to medicinal cannabis.

She also encouraged people to tune in to the first debate on Ms Swarbrick's bill in Parliament next Wednesday.

Ms Clark is now on a global drug policy commission which promotes the reduction of harm from drugs.

The Government's Misuse of Drugs Amendment Bill introduced to Parliament last month will make cannabis products more easily available to patients with a terminal illness or in chronic pain.

An advisory committee will be established to review the current requirements for prescribing medicinal cannabis, and set minimum product quality standards to "improve patient safety and give medical practitioners confidence".

The bill also allows for the domestic cultivation and manufacture of medicinal cannabis products, including oils and balms.

Ms Swarbrick's member's bill is seen as more liberal, allowing anyone with a debilitating condition or terminal illness to use raw cannabis or cannabis products with the support of a doctor.

The first-term Green MP took to Facebook this week to ask for the public's help in getting her bill passed.

Ms Swarbrick said in a video that New Zealand lags far behind other progressive countries in our medicinal cannabis laws.

She said people who use cannabis for pain relief shouldn't be treated like criminals and the bill is a good first step towards legalisation.

MPs will be given a conscience vote on Ms Swarbrick's bill, meaning they don't have to vote along party lines.

The Greens confidence-and-supply agreement with Labour includes a referendum on recreational cannabis.

Helen Clark
Helen Clark Source: 1 NEWS

Raw: New video shows youngsters yelling in terror off Waiheke Island as pair of orca whales swim past

New video has emerged showing the moment two orca whales swum past a pair of terrified young swimmers off Auckland's Waiheke Island yesterday.

Brett Thom was out taking his dog for a walk when he walked around the corner to Enclosure Bay and heard a woman's frantic scream "Get out of the water!'.

That's when he saw two orca fins gliding through the water.

Often seen swimming through the bay with dolphins, he told 1 NEWS NOW that in his entire time living on Waiheke Island he had never seen them so close to the shore.

He estimated them to be 30 meters away.

He watched on as a group of children were frozen in fear in the water as the whales glided past them.

The youngsters finally swam to the nearest rock and were collected by someone in a kayak.

Mr Thom said it was a bit of a change from the usual friendly sting ray that he sees most days. 

Yesterday, Shane Watt sent 1 NEWS video of the encounter, which he filmed from above the bay.

"The kids were obviously very, very frightened," he said.

"We were terrified just watching. It took us a minute to calm down afterwards so I can't imagine what the adrenaline would've been like for them."


Tests confirm gastro outbreak in Reefton

Reefton locals are being warned to stay vigilant after a gastro outbreak rocked the small West Coast town.

The past week has shown a rise in the Reefton community of people experiencing diarrhoea and vomiting and now the viral outbreak is confirmed. 

Gastroenteritis is often spread through contaminated water or food.

People who are feeling unwell are also being urged to stay away from any public meetings, health facilities aged residential care facilities, and wait at least 48 hours after recovery before returning to work. 

A nasty bug has got into the Havelock North water supply and it has affected six schools, including two boarding schools.
Source: 1 NEWS