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Misuse of Drugs (Medicinal Cannabis) Amendment Bill

Introduced on Dec 20. The Bill creates an exception and a statutory defence for terminally ill people to possess and use illicit cannabis. It creates a regulation-making power to set standards for cannabis products manufactured, imported, and supplied under licence must meet; and amends the law so cannabidiol (CBD) and CBD products are no longer classed as controlled drugs. Completed first reading on January 30 and was referred to the Health Committee with all parties in support. A number of MPs expressed personal concern about the further progress of the Bill and others said it was far too restrictive in terms of decriminalisation. There was general agreement the issues should be examined at select committee. Reported back on July 25 with the evenly divided committee unable to agree on changes, but the report included a raft of changes they considered. National also began promoting a draft Bill on the same subject but was refused leave to introduce it, so it will have to go through the Ballot process. After talks between the governing parties the second reading debate was held on Nov 29. The Government indicated it would be introducing a number of amendments. These included around the defence also covering those requiring “palliation” and clarification about what the regulations would cover in terms of supply and standards, and how those supplying to qualifying people would be treated. National supported the Bill, but expressed doubts around the lack of detail around what would be in the regulatory framework. Second reading completed on Nov 29. Committee stage completed on Dec 5 with changes made along the lines of agreement with the Government parties. National suggestions for a more detailed regime were rejected and the third reading was completed on Dec 11 with just National opposed. Misuse of Drugs (Medicinal Cannabis) Amendment Bill