29 Nov 2018

Palliative care patients given green light to use cannabis

6:55 pm on 29 November 2018

All palliative care patients will be allowed to use illicit cannabis without fear of legal repercussions after the government announced an expansion to its medicinal cannabis legislation

Medical marijuana buds in daily pill organizer with branded prescription bottle lid sitting on green background

Photo: 123RF

Health Minister David Clark's Misuse of Drugs (Medicinal Cannabis) Amendment Bill introduces a scheme to give people better access to medicinal cannabis and removes cannabidoil from the schedule of controlled drugs.

The government announced the expansion to the legislation during the bill's second reading this afternoon.

The bill passed with the support of the National opposition.

At committee stage Health Minister David Clark today revealed he would amend the legislation to remove references to 'terminally ill' and the timeframe of 12 months for illicit cannabis use that were originally in the legislation.

"It is not possible to predict with complete accuracy the progression of life-threatening conditions. In addition, 'terminally ill' is no longer used in palliative care and can be confronting for some patients," he said.

Dr Clark said the bill would now refer to 'palliation.'

"I expect this change to increase the number of people covered by the exception and statutory defence provisions," he said.

Approximately 25,000 New Zealanders benefit from palliative care.

"I expect this group of patients would be covered by the definition of 'palliation' but it's not known how many would choose to use illicit cannabis," Dr Clark said.

The changes also ensure the rules around the Medicinal Cannabis Scheme will be set within a year of the law passing, and makes technical changes to "the description of allowable THC thresholds" in CBD medicinal products.

Dr Clark's Supplementary Order Paper - which RNZ has requested a copy of - also makes clear that cannabis varieties already produced in New Zealand would be able to be used for medicinal products.