People Against Prisons Aotearoa
Health Committee Indecision Over Medicinal Cannabis Out of Touch
The parliamentary Health Committee’s failure to recommend that the Misuse of Drugs (Medicinal Cannabis) Amendment Bill
be passed shows it’s out of touch with the public, says criminal justice group People Against Prisons Aotearoa (PAPA).
“Almost every single submission from the public supported this bill. It is beyond belief that the Health Committee has
ignored our near-unanimous support for it to be law,” says PAPA spokesperson Emilie Rākete.
PAPA’s submission to the Health Committee emphasised that the bill does not go far enough, recommending that the use of
illicit cannabis be decriminalised for all people with chronic illness, not just terminal illness.
“So many submissions were in favour of the bill, but just wanted to push it further. People should not be put in prison
for drug use, especially people with chronic illnesses. This is a health concern, not a criminal one.”
“Terminally ill people continue to be put in prison for possession of cannabis. People will continue to suffer
needlessly while the Government wastes time” says Rākete.
“The National Party members of the Health Committee are trying to kill this bill for partisan reasons. National’s own
proposed bill legalising medicinal cannabis would require sick people to pass so-called ‘character tests’ before being
“National’s bill would hand control of the new medicinal cannabis industry to pharmaceutical companies by banning
smokable cannabis, cutting out the expertise in cannabis cultivation which already exists in some of our poorest
communities. Medicinal cannabis could be a path to legitimacy for these small commodity producers, but National is
intent on keeping them poor, marginalised, and criminalised.”