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People in palliative care will have legal defence for using marijuana after Parliament passes medicinal cannabis bill

"Today is historic and it is for you", Green Party MP Chlöe Swarbrick told medicinal cannabis patients and campaigners, who watched as Parliament passed the third reading of the Government's medicinal cannabis bill.

Health Minister Dr David Clark said the new bill introduces an exception and statutory defence for people in palliative care to possess and use illicit cannabis and to possess a cannabis utensil.  

"It is a bill about cultivation, cannabinoids and compassion," he told the House. 

However, National leader Simon Bridges said the legislation was a "terrible, unsafe, dangerous Bill". 

"We're all for medicinal cannabis, we believe in it... but the reality is here today, without the questions answered I fear we've got decriminalisation of cannabis by stealth."

The passing of the Bill at Third Reading came after the Government proposed to include people in palliative care, instead of just those with terminal illness with 12 months or less to live, as pushed by NZ First. 

The Green Party also negotiated for a local licensing, production, prescription and consumption regime by the end of 2019.

Ms Swarbrick said they were incredibly proud to progress the legislation. 

"No one here is saying cannabis does not come with harm, that would be irresponsible, but to minimise that harm we have to recognise that an illegal substance is exactly the opposite to a controlled substance," she said. 

"The medical profession we believe is far better placed to figure out what they should be prescribing than some folks in comfy armchairs in an ivory chamber."

National Party leader Simon Bridges called the legislation "terrible, unsafe, dangerous". 

"We're all for medicinal cannabis, we believe in it... but the reality is here today, without the questions answered I fear we've got decriminalisation of cannabis by stealth. 

"This bill will do nothing to get the neffs off the couch," he said to NZ First MP Shane Jones. "It very much legitimises the long term intergenerational systemic problems he agrees with this side of the House on."

"Shame on the House for passing this terrible, unsafe, dangerous Bill."

The Ruatoria company has just become the first business in New Zealand granted a licence to cultivate the plants.
Source: 1 NEWS