Marijuana Legislation and Referendum in New Zealand
The year 2018 was a pivotal one for cannabis in New Zealand. It began with the New Zealand Government’s medical cannabis law reform bill passing its first reading and ended with the legalisation of medical marijuana nationwide.
Here’s a look back at New Zealand’s journey with marijuana throughout the year 2018.
January 30: The Misuse of Drugs (Medicinal Cannabis) Amendment Bill, introduced by the New Zealand Government, passed its first reading.
The Government’s proposed law sought to make changes to the current medical cannabis law to decriminalise the use of approved pharmaceutical-graded cannabis products and provide a criminal defence to anyone terminally ill. Marijuana Legislation and Referendum in New Zealand
January 31: Green MP Chloe Swarbrick’s medicinal cannabis bill failed at first reading in Parliament.
Swarbrick’s member’s bill goes further the government’s medical cannabis bill, allowing terminally ill and debilitated patients to use, possess and legally grow marijuana if prescribed it by their doctor.
The Government’s bill had been criticised for excluding those who suffer from chronic pain, while Green’s bill had been criticised as a license to “grow your own marijuana” but also admired as a way to drop the price of medical cannabis. Medical cannabis law Medical cannabis law
February 8: Submissions opened on Government’s Medicinal Cannabis Bill
The Government bill, after passing its first reading, had been widely criticised for being weak, vague and not including all patients who urgently needed affordable legal marijuana. The Health Select Committee opened submissions from the public to hear their opinions and amend their submission accordingly. Submissions were being accepted until March 21. Marijuana Legislation and Referendum in New Zealand
February 12: Medical Cannabis Awareness New Zealand (MCANZ) released a health policy document which it wants the government to pass into medical cannabis law.
The policy contained elements of recent bills proposed by Labour and Chloe Swarbrick but was more detailed than both. It included decriminalisation of medical use, allowing eligible patients to grow their own marijuana, allowed for domestic cannabis production, and appealed for a reduction in prescription barriers, among other changes.
March 27: The Bay of Plenty was found to have most cannabis dependence in New Zealand.
A Massey University survey found the region had the highest number of cannabis users and that people in the region had a higher need for help for substance abuse than in other parts of New Zealand.
April 4: New Zealand Drug Foundation (NZDF) asked the Government to widen the provision of their medical cannabis bill. Medicinal marijuana for chronic pain Medicinal marijuana for chronic pain
Under the Government bill, only terminally ill patients who had twelve months or less than to live would get a legal defence against prosecution for illicit marijuana use. The Drug Foundation director, Ross Bell, argued that the Bill should extend to provide statutory protection also to those with severe and debilitating conditions. Cannabis Legislation and Referendum in New Zealand Cannabis Legislation and Referendum in New Zealand
April 11: NORML’s submission on the Government’s medicinal cannabis bill
National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML) delivered a submission on behalf of dissatisfied patients on the Government’s medical cannabis law reform bill. NORML’s submission advocated broadening the statutory defence for patients with terminal, chronic or debilitating medical conditions, and making local products available in the country. Rebecca Reidera, a Golden Bay patient, said with one in twenty New Zealanders using cannabis medicinally, it was time to bring this issue into the light of day. Marijuana Legislation and Referendum in New Zealand