Legal Protection for terminal cases misses the point.
MCANZ Coordinator Shane Le Brun, Center, with MCANZ Trustee Nichola Smith front left and various patients and supporters
of MCANZ at parliament for the first reading of the Govt Medical Cannabis bill.
The Ministry of health has quietly released a trove of documents
relating to the governments Medical Cannabis Bill, and it demonstrates, that without any truly external consultation,
an opportunity has been missed to greatly extend legal protections.
It has been identified that Chronic Pain as promised by Labour is a broad category with many New Zealanders suffering
chronic pain of varying intensity and there would be issues extending a statutory defence that far, or tightening up the
definition of chronic pain fairly. As an in house bill with zero consultation outside of Govt, a simple remedy for a
tighter definition has been missed. Instead of wasting coverage on the terminally ill, a tighter definition of chronic
pain could have been employed. To this end a definition of “severe or debilitating condition” is what MCANZ supports and
hopes to see implemented in the select committee process. This will not cover a generic mild case of chronic pain, such
as common occurrences of osteoarthritis, but it would include protections for those who are routinely on Opioids such as
fentanyl and oxycodone for significant pain and who are unable to work. It would also cover those with other severe
conditions who could benefit, such as those with Crohn’s, Tourette’s and MS, providing the best of both worlds.
Says MCANZ Coordinator Shane Le Brun:
“Legal Protection for the terminally ill is a moot point, as the patient would odds on die during the prosecution
process, and police would be more inclined to exercise discretion in such cases, such as publicly ignoring the long list
of Cannabis offences committed by the late Helen Kelly. That is not an area of concern currently, we have many patients
getting hauled before the courts, but none are on their deathbed.”
“What is concerning currently is the amount of patients with severe conditions that police execute raids on, and the
vigorous prosecution of those patients who cultivate for their own supply”
“We don’t feel it is in the public interest to be prosecuting those who are in such a poor state that they have been
unable to work for years, many are wheelchair bound, a definition of ‘Severe and Debilitating’ would aid these patients
who need protecting from the police.”
“Its concerning that even the meagre coverage provided in the Government’s Cannabis bill was too much for police, while
it was heartening to hear that Justice officials wanted coverage extended further. It speaks to how out of touch the
police are on this issue”
“It is also encouraging that several MPs that MCANZ has met with recently have described our desire for protections to
be extended for those with ‘severe or debilitating’ conditions as anything from ‘reasonable’ to a ‘no brainer’”