Grow-Your-Own Medical Marijuana Bill to Go Before NZ Parliament

The new proposal aims to cut costs for those using the plant for pain relief and medical treatments.

by Tess McClure
08 June 2017, 2:26am

A new bill that would allow people to grow their own pot for medical use will be debated before New Zealand's parliament.

The bill argues that "medical use of cannabis should be legal, accessible and affordable". It would amend the Misuse of Drugs Act to allow those with qualifying medical conditions to cultivate, possess and use cannabis for therapeutic purposes. They would need the support of their doctor to do so. That exemption would also apply to immediate relatives who were growing the plant for sick family members.

Drafted by Green Party MP Julie Anne Genter, the bill has been drawn from New Zealand's biscuit tin of democracy - the ballot from which members' bills are drawn.

Genter told Newshub that "At the moment people who are chronically ill or terminally ill who are using cannabis to relieve their pain or nausea, or for sleep, are currently operating outside of the law."

"My Bill would say that you're allowed to cultivate, possess and use cannabis if you have the support of a registered medical practitioner. This is very similar to the medicinal cannabis law in Canada, or what's been operating to some extent in California for the last decade."
This comes a week after the Associate Health Minister Peter Dunne announced the lifting restrictions on medical marijuana - allowing CBD oil to be prescribed by doctors. But, as VICE reported, the new rules don't subsidise the drug, and patients looking for a prescription will still be faced with a bill of around $1400 a month.

Genter told Newshub those changes didn't go far enough, and for many patients the cost was prohibitive: "For most people, those pharmaceutical products are still completely out of reach."

This week, VICE spoke to Jack* a man who cultivates his own cannabis illegally to create CBD, using it as a painkiller for chronic immuno-arthritis.
He'd racked up four convictions for growing the plant for personal use. He says even with prescriptions the cost of $1400 per month would be prohibitive.
"Being able to get a prescription means jack if it's still going to cost an arm and a leg. The worry over the cost is still a big drama," he said.

READ MORE: Do New Zealand's New Medical Marijuana Rules Actually Help Sick People?

Genter is hoping to get cross-party support for the bill.