WELLINGTON, Nov. 29 (Xinhua) -- Proposed changes to the medicinal cannabis legislation will mean more New Zealanders can get access to medicinal cannabis faster, Health Minister David Clark said on Thursday.
"This legislation will greatly increase availability of quality medicinal cannabis products, and will allow for their domestic manufacture. It will mean many New Zealanders living in pain will have another option to find relief," Clark said in a statement.
During the second reading of the Misuse of Drugs (Medicinal Cannabis) Amendment Bill, Clark outlined planned amendments which will be introduced via a Supplementary Order Paper (SOP) during the Committee Stage.
The SOP will alter the eligibility for people who can use the statutory defense for the use of illicit cannabis so that it covers people in palliation, rather than limiting it to the terminally ill in their last 12 months.
It also makes clear that varieties of cannabis that are already in New Zealand can be used for medicinal products.
"The statutory defense for people who are nearing the end of their life to possess or use illicit cannabis is a compassionate measure to ease suffering and improve quality of life," Clark said, adding to put that in perspective, each year about 25,000 New Zealanders could benefit from palliative care.
This will speed up access to a greater range of quality medicinal cannabis products, and it gives those companies looking to develop those products certainty and a clear timeframe, he added.