Wednesday, July 01, 2009

Member's day

Today is a Member's Day, and the big debate today is likely to be on Metiria Turei's Misuse of Drugs (Medicinal Cannabis) Amendment Bill. The goal of the bill is to allow people with severe medical conditions to use cannabis for pain and nausea relief - something which ought to be a straight medical question of whether it is safe and effective. But the bill muddies the waters by letting those sick people get a license to grow their own or buy it from a designated agent - something which significantly reduces the cost, but which is bound to inflame the anti-drug wingnuts.

The Health Committee recently considered this issue in response to a petition from NORML [PDF]. Despite being told by the Ministry of Health that cannabis was a safe and effective medicine for some conditions with fewer and less dangerous side-effects than medicines currently in use, the furtherest it would go was recommending that one (prohibitively expensive) cannabis-based medicine be made easier to prescribe. Based on that, I think there's no enthusiasm to pass this bill in this Parliament. Which means that people who find cannabis effective in treating their ailments will just have to keep breaking the law.

The other bills up for debate today are Jeanette Fitzsimons' Climate Change (Transport Funding) Bill, which would funnel an increasing proportion of transport spending to public transport; Metiria Turei's Liquor Advertising (Television and Radio) Bill, which would ban all broadcast advertising of alcohol; and Jeanette Fitzsimons; Sustainable Biofuels Bill which would impose a sustainability standard on all biofuels sold in New Zealand. That's right - all four bills are from the Greens. Which is what happens when everyone sticks a bill in every ballot without fail.

The House should get through the first three of those bills today, and at least make a start on the fourth. Which means a ballot tomorrow for another three (three because Catherine Delahunty's sustainable forestry bill will be back on the Order Paper, having been delayed by a day for some unknown reason). It will be interesting to see what makes it in...