5 Jul 2017

Grow your own medication

From The House, 6:55 am on 5 July 2017

Growing your own medicinal cannabis could become a reality if a new bill passes.

Associate Health Minister Peter Dunne recently added pharmaceutical cannabidiol (CBD) to the list of otherwise illegal substances that are able to be more generally accessible with a medical prescription.

It was lauded as a breakthrough by some and as only baby steps by others.

CBD is one of two active ingredients in cannabis seen as medically useful, the other is THC (the 'high' part). The problem seen with the recent move is that pharmaceutical CBD can be prohibitively expensive; as much as $1,200 a month.

Medical cannabis campaigners argue this is silly because anyone can grow cannabis in their own backyard for free. 

Green MP Julie-Anne Genter has a member's bill coming before Parliament that aims to change all that. 

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Julie-Anne Genter, who has a member's bill to legalise medical cannabis Photo: VNP / Daniela Maoate-Cox

The bill amends the Misuse of Drugs Act to allow anyone with a prescription from a medical practitioner to grow, possess and consume cannabis in any form (leaves, buds, oils, salves etc).

If that were the only amendment it would leave many people who were, say, too ill to tend a personal marijuana plot, stuck for where to legally gain a supply. But Ms Genter's bill also allows people to nominate someone else as their grower or supplier.   

She says the NZ Drug Foundation had conducted research indicating overwhelming support from kiwis for medical cannabis, regardless of their political affiliation and "it's our responsibility, as legislators, to go ahead and start the work to solve this problem." 

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Here's a video on how an MP can get a member's bill into Parliament.