New Zealand’s government has passed a legislation which can make medical marijuana broadly accessible for tens of thousands of individuals with time, following years of campaigning by ill New Zealanders who say the medication is the one thing that alleviates their pain.
The laws will also permit terminally ill patients to start smoking illegal marijuana immediately without confronting the prospect of prosecution.
The health minister, David Clarke, said tens of thousands of New Zealanders were alive with chronic and end-of-life pain along with the signs that marijuana could help ease their distress was noise.
The legislation could also pave the way for New Zealand firms to manufacture medicinal cannabis products for both the local and global market, a sector that has been touted as a possible game-changer for disadvantaged Māori communities around the east coast of the North Island, that aspire to reverse the flourishing illegal sector to a flourishing legal one.
“Individuals nearing the end of their own lives shouldn’t need to worry about being detained or imprisoned for attempting to control their pain,” Clarke explained.
“This really is compassionate and affectionate law which will make a genuine difference to people… they could use illegal cannabis without any fear of prosecution”
The steps come before a planned referendum on recreational marijuana use, and also the government has vowed to hold within a couple of decades, as a part of the confidence and supply agreement with coalition partner the Greens.
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The law permits much wider use of medical marijuana, which has been previously been highly limited and subject to acceptance by the health minister.
The effort to generate marijuana legal applauded the government for passing the laws in their first year in office.
“New Zealanders will accept this encouragement that we do not have to get stuck in the past,” explained Sandra Murray, campaign director for its #makeitlegal campaign.
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“We’re currently two steps behind the rest of the planet in regards to sensible cannabis legislation and together with the forthcoming referendum, we’re on course to become a good illustration of how to make it done right.”
Pot usage is not uncommon in New Zealand and authorities mostly turn a blind eye on little, recreational usage of this medication, with a few politicians admitting to utilizing it in their childhood.
The opposition National party said the authorities had decriminalized cannabis “by stealth”, and slammed the move as”idle and harmful”.
“We encourage medicinal cannabis but ardently oppose the smoking of loose leaf cannabis in people. Smoked loose foliage isn’t a medication,” said the Nationals’ spokesperson on health, Shane Reti.
Patients needing to use marijuana for ailments like chronic pain is going to need to wait a year before a new set of regulations, accreditation rules and quality criteria are set up.