Supporters gathered at parliament to support medicinal cannabis legalisation
Dozens of medicinal cannabis health patients were at Parliament to support a bill, the Misuse of Drugs (Medicinal Cannabis) Amendment Bill that will allow terminally ill people to use cannabis.
But will the bill go far enough and will it be the next step before the drug is decriminalised?
Patient Joseph Gibbons who takes medicinal cannabis swears by it.
“I have had good results with it. If I can have a good night's sleep, I can get up the next day and be a productive positive citizen.”
The bill will create an exemption for terminally ill people to use cannabis medicinally.
But Gibbons also says the provisions need to be broadened.
Ross Bell, Executive Manager of NZ Drug Foundation agrees.
“The stories that we're hearing today are very personal powerful stories where people are saying, the bill doesn't address the condition that I have, it doesn't give me the legal protection that you're giving to some other people, the bill needs to be changed, it needs to be strengthened, and I think they are correct.”
He says the bill needs to make cannabis more accessible and inexpensive.
“The bill should also allow people to cultivate their own medicine. One of the big barriers at the moment is, is the barrier of cost. That barrier won't go away and so people will continue to do what they currently do, which is to cultivate cannabis.”
If this bill gets legislated, Bell also says perhaps the government should consider cannabis for recreational use.
“We also have to look at New Zealand's overall drug law and the fact that we are continuing to criminalise a whole lot of people, we're continuing to put a whole lot of resource into law enforcement and prisons, and we miss out with drug treatment and drug education.”
There'll be a referendum on that particular aspect in 2020. The Misuse of Drugs (Medicinal Cannabis) Amendment Bill will have its second reading on July 30.