Wednesday, July 25, 2018

Reported back

The Health Committee has reported back on the government's Misuse of Drugs (Medicinal Cannabis) Amendment Bill, and been unable to reach a decision. Which is what happens when you have a select committee split 4-4 between Labour and National: it becomes dysfunctional and is unable to reach a decision over any substantive policy issue. So, instead the final shape of the law will be resolved at the committee stage, by ad-hoc amendment, which means we won't know what it will look like until the third reading.

National's major objection seemed to be that the bill didn't ban the terminally ill from being allowed to (gasp!) smoke cannabis for medical reasons. Which is something almost universally supported by New Zealand society. So they've proposed their own bill which would ban this, while imposing punitive restrictions on cannabis growing licensees to prevent people who know how to grow cannabis from going legit. It does have wider eligibility for use, and puts the licensed user regime in statute rather than regulation, but there's a core of punitive nastiness in there which is just pure National. And no doubt they'll be hoping to get the reactionaries in NZ First to go along with it (though the fact that the average NZ First voter is old, and old people use cannabis medicinally too might be a check on this).

Hopefully the sensible parts of National's bill will be stolen and added to the government one at the committee stage, and the punitive bits dumped. But we might see this bill fail, and sick people condemned to being criminalised, because of spoiling behaviour by the opposition.