Pacific MP supports government bill to allow medicinal cannabis for the terminally ill

AUCKLAND, 15 AUGUST 2018 (PACIFIC RADIO NEWS) – A Pacific MP is supporting a proposed law change allowing medicinal cannabis to be prescribed by doctors for terminally ill people.

Currently, cannabis-based products requires Ministerial approval before it can be prescribed, supplied or administered.

The Misuse of Drugs Amendment Bill proposes to give terminally ill people, expected to die within the year, the right to possess and use cannabis-based products to alleviate pain.

Earlier this year, Labour List MP ‘Anahila Kanongata’a-Suisuiki voted down a Green Party bill allowing medicinal cannabis to be grown and used by those who are sick.

However, she says she supports the coalition government’s current bill.

“As a Tongan, I welcome the coalition government’s bill because one, it will relieve pain and two, we’re going to set up an organisation that will regulate how cannabis is grown in New Zealand,” she says.

“Chloe Swarbrick’s bill was for people to grow their own and I don’t support that… If you’re able to grow your own there’s no regulation authority to say what type of plant you can grow. That’s why I said no. I didn’t support if the dangerous part of cannabis can be grown in your backyard and anyone can have access to it.”

Kanongata’a-Suisuiki is on the Select Committee for the bill, which received 1786 submissions from the public and different organisations.

She says in terms of Pacific input, there was very little to none.

“There weren’t a lot of Pacific people that came to voice their opinions, but for me personally and the people that I associate with, they believe that if this is going to ease the pains of their loved ones then it’s something that they will support.”

Kanongata’a-Suisuiki is hoping more Pacific people speak up on issues like this especially when it is being considered in Parliament.

“As a new member of parliament, we really need to understand the importance of our voice when things go through to Select Committee… Send an email, voice your opinion because members of parliament do listen to it.”

Submissions to the Select Committee have pushed for the bill to also allow the chronically ill people to access the drug as well.

Kanongata’a-Suisuiki says the Select Committee disagrees but the bill will be considered again when it goes back to Parliament for debate.

The Misuse of Drugs Amendment Bill also proposes to deschedule cannabidiol as a controlled drug and allow easier access to medicinal cannabis products.

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