Swarbrick's member's bill, which she inherited from Julie Anne Genter, would go further than the reforms offered by a Government bill on the issue.
Green MP Chlöe Swarbrick’s medicinal marijuana bill has gathered support from both Grey Power and Helen Clark, but it remains unclear if it will get anywhere.
Swarbrick’s member’s bill, which she inherited from Julie Anne Genter, would go further than the reforms offered by a Government bill on the issue.
It would allow patients suffering from a terminal illness or debilitating condition to grow their own marijuana for personal use if prescribed by a doctor.
The Government’s bill instead creates a legal defence for possession and use of cannabis if someone is in the last year of their life, without out and out legalising it. It would remain an offence to provide marijuana to a terminally ill person.
Swarbrick’s bill has gained supporters from unlikely corners, including former Labour Prime Minister Helen Clark and senior advocate group Grey Power, who say it deserves to get through its first reading.
“[The Government bill] does not go far enough as those with chronic pain should also have access to medical cannabis if it offers them some relief,” Grey Power head Tom O’Connor said.
His organisation was not in support of home-grown cannabis however.
The bill is likely to come to a first reading vote on Wednesday evening, after another non-controversial bill passes.
It is not yet clear whether it will hit 61 votes and survive its first reading.
Swarbrick’s own Green Party will all vote for the bill. Labour will be allowing their MPs to vote their conscience on the bill, with Health Minister David Clark indicating his support for getting it through its first reading at least. It is understood that NZ First are likely to allow their MPs to vote their conscience too.
Bills must pass three “readings” or votes before becoming law.
But the Governing parties hold just 63 votes, and it is unlikely every Labour and NZ First MP will support the bill.
Even with the help of David Seymour’s single vote National votes would likely be needed.
National have not yet decided whether or not to let their MPs vote their conscience on the issue, but are expected to make that decision at their caucus meeting on Tuesday morning.
When the Greens last had a medicinal cannabis bill in the house in 2009 it failed at its first reading 86-34.
Then backbench MP Jacinda Ardern voted for that bill, along with Grant Robertson, Phil Twyford, and Chris Hipkins. No National Party MPs supported it.
The Greens won a referendum on recreational use of marijuana during coalition negotiations.
That referendum was promised before 2021.
By Henry Cooke – Stuff.nz
Photo Credit – Getty