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Parliament to debate legalising cannabis

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 8/06/2017

New Zealand is finally going to have a conversation about medicinal cannabis and ridding the country of "archaic" laws, Green party MP Julie Anne Genter says.

Her bill seeking to legalise the drug for sick and dying New Zealanders was pulled from the members' bill ballot on Thursday and will be presented to parliament.

She wants the drug, or products derived from it, legal for people with a terminal illness or other debilitating condition to use the drug with the support of a registered medical practitioner.

"No Kiwi should have to live in pain because of an archaic, uncompassionate law," she said.

Not only does she want to see the drug available but she wants it to be affordable.

Last week Associate Health Minister Peter Dunne announced he would lift restrictions that made medicinal cannabis products a controlled substance.

Since June 2 doctors have been able to prescribe cannabidoil, or CBD, with a prescription, no longer requiring ministerial approval.

Ms Genter said that change was a step forward but still relied on the import of expensive overseas drugs, while her bill would change that.

"New Zealand can finally catch up to much of the rest of the world on cannabis - now it's up to my colleagues across the aisle in Parliament," she said.

It's not clear how many MPs support the bill, but at least one who will be backing it is Act leader David Seymour whose own End of Life Choice Bill seeking to legalise assisted suicide was also drawn from the ballot on Thursday.

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