News | Law and Order
23 Feb 2018 3:28
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  •   Home > News > Law and Order

    Cannabis bill passes first reading

    A bill that will allow terminally ill people to possess and use cannabis without facing charges has unanimously passed its first reading in parliament.

    The government's bill that will allow terminally ill people to possess and use cannabis without facing charges has unanimously passed its first reading in parliament.

    It creates a statutory defence for those people, without changing any of the laws around the recreational use of cannabis.

    The defence will only be created for those with a diagnosed life expectancy of 12 months or less.

    "New Zealanders are compassionate, and this is an option that allows some people to find relief," Health Minister David Clark said.

    "It will mean they are not criminalised in their final days."

    The bill also allows regulations to be made setting standards for medicinal cannabis products, and eventually those products will be sold under licence.

    The bill has been sent to the health select committee for public submissions.

    Parliament will on Wednesday debate another, more controversial, cannabis bill.

    It's a member's bill drafted by Green MP Chloe Swarbrick and goes much further than the government's legislation.

    The bill would make it legal for anyone with a terminal illness or a debilitating condition to grow, possess and use cannabis under prescription.

    A relative or a "nominated person" would be allowed to supply it.

    Ms Swarbrick thinks she has the numbers to get her bill through its first reading but there's no assurance of that.

    Labour and NZ First are going to allow their MPs to cast conscience votes, meaning there's no party line on the bill.

    National opposes the bill but will allow an exception for some of its MPs who want to vote for it.

    Leader Bill English says he expects "less than a handful" will back the bill.

    If it passes its first reading it will also go to the health select committee.

    © 2018 NZN, NZCity

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