National reveals details of new medicinal cannabis bill

Updated: Aug 2, 2018

National Party leader Simon Bridges has today unveiled a plan for an alternative, more comprehensive medicinal cannabis bill that would treat medicinal cannabis the same as any other pharmacist-only medicine.

National leader Simon Bridges said the bill would widen access to medicinal cannabis and license high-quality domestic production.

Reti’s bill adds several layers of detail to the Government’s proposal, which delegated much of the regulatory detail to officials to implement after the bill passed.

It also proposes a regime in which patients would apply for a medicinal cannabis card though their GP, enabling them to purchase medicinal cannabis products. The regime would be similar to that of some American states like California.

Helius commends National for their work on this bill. It demonstrates the level of rigour New Zealand needs to implement a sensible, long-term regulatory framework for medicinal cannabis.

This bill, should it pass, is a near-perfect balance of social and commercial priorities. It will provide excellent accessibility for patients seeking to improve their quality of life, and it will pave the way for a world-class, well-regulated medicinal cannabis industry in this country.

National's bill addresses all of the important issues that we have campaigned for over the last six months. It will set high quality, medical-grade standards for the cultivation and manufacture of cannabis therapeutics. It points to GMP-certification as mandatory, which will place the New Zealand industry, and companies like Helius, ahead of the world.

National's proposed ‘Medicinal Cannabis Card' program would provide excellent accessibility for patients seeking the therapeutic benefits of cannabis-based products. This represents international best practice and is a genuine reflection of the trends we’re seeing in more advanced markets. It also ensures a large domestic market for local producers to serve. Essentially, it short-cuts New Zealand into best practice, right from the outset.

What we see in this bill is a level of detail that the industry can bite down on. The bill makes the standards of cultivation and manufacturing clear. It tells us what we can sell, where we can sell it and who we can sell it to.

Whilst the original bill was a big step forward, it was very light on detail. It presented more questions than answers. Whereas this new, alternative bill gives us a much clearer pathway forward.

National's bill is exactly what local producers like Helius wanted to see, and it’s great for New Zealand. We think Kiwis should get behind this bill.

Our only criticism is that the new bill does not address the enormous opportunity associated with export. It makes sense to us that licensed producers should generate taxable earnings for New Zealand from the $55b global medicinal cannabis market. There is a shortage of medicinal cannabis in the world markets and we can be part of the solution. We think that needs to be clarified.

We’d love to see these ideas make it through and hope the government to gets on with it. People are suffering now without access to medicinal cannabis products. We must put patients ahead of politics. We must maintain the momentum.

You can read more about National's medicinal cannabis bill here.
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