New Zealand has become the latest country to pass a medical cannabis bill. In doing so, it will establish a regulated Medical Cannabis Scheme within one year. It will also allow anyone close to death a legal defense for using it before then.
Let’s have a look at cannabis’ latest jurisdiction.
New Zealand Cannabis
The Government passed the Misuse of Drugs (Medicinal Cannabis) Amendment Bill, which gives terminally ill people the right to use cannabis products and relative utensils, legally.
It was first introduced into parliament one year ago as part of the New Zealand Government’s 100-day cannabis plan. The goal was to improve access to the drug for those in chronic pain and those suffering from terminal illness. Health Minister David Clark describes it as:
“This is a compassionate and caring legislation that will make a real difference to people living in pain and nearing the end of their lives.”
New Zealand Cannabis: Third Reading
Today’s approval was the bill’s third reading. After its first and second readings, further amendments were made. For example, the second reading was changed to include all people needing palliative relief, rather than those with less than a year to live.
Also, it was amended to ensure that regulations for the Medicinal Cannabis Scheme would be in place no later than one year after the law comes into effect. Some had concerns that the regulatory framework would take over two years to put into place.
Out from the Woodwork
Interestingly, one therapeutic cannabis company has already called for illegal cannabis growers to come forward with their product.
I wonder how many will come out of the woodwork?
For and Against
The bill will come into effect once it is given royal assent. It passed with the support of all coalition partners: Labour, the Greens, and NZ First.
However, the National Party called the bill “decriminalization of cannabis by stealth” and voted against it.
The National Party initially supported the Government’s bill but then waivered its support in July after opting for its own “more comprehensive” version, which it touted as a “well-researched regime for the use of medicinal cannabis.”
Health Minister Clark also spoke about the industry doors the new bill opens:
“Today’s vote in Parliament clears the way for the creation of a Medicinal Cannabis Scheme that will allow New Zealand companies to manufacture medicinal cannabis products for both the local and international market.”
Newly legalized jurisdictions for medical cannabis include South Korea, New Jersey State, and the United Kingdom. Whilst Luxembourg, Michigan State and, of course, Canada, have made recreational cannabis use legal too.
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