Sunday, May 9, 2021
Times of Georgia
HomePoliticalDr Reti’s Medicinal Cannabis Bill Highlights Flaws In Current System

Dr Reti’s Medicinal Cannabis Bill Highlights Flaws In Current System

National Party deputy leader and health
spokesperson Dr Shane Reti’s private member’s bill on
medicinal cannabis, drafted in 2018 before the current
scheme, is due to be debated in Parliament this

Executive Director of the NZ Drug
Foundation Sarah Helm said she applauded Dr Reti for putting
the legislation forward.

“The current scheme has
left patients with huge barriers to access, which are
threefold: obtaining a prescription, price and limited
product availability. It is hard to get a prescription
because many doctors won’t or aren’t sure how to
prescribe the products. The drugs aren’t funded and this
means CBD oil for example can cost a patient $230-350/month.
And there are some quality controls that are meaning the
products on the market are extremely

“Technically, medicinal cannabis is
legal, but thousands of New Zealanders are still forced to
get their products from illicit suppliers. This puts people
at risk of falling foul of the law to access medication that
they know will work for them. From month to month they have
no guarantee they’ll get the products they

“Dr Reti’s bill was written before the
current scheme and takes a different approach. It would not
fix the lack of funding and therefore price barriers, which
are significant. However he does propose a solution to the
prescription barrier through funding an education campaign
with doctors and pharmacies, which he outlined on Radio NZ
this morning.”

“The current approach is not
working and needs to be urgently fixed. Patients suffering
from severe and debilitating conditions cannot access the
products they need.”

“The bill Dr Reti introduced
in 2018 highlights that all this time later patients
continue to face huge obstacles. We need to urgently find
solutions to these.”

“Decriminalising cannabis
would go some way to addressing the problems by allowing
‘green fairies’ to operate without fear of

In December the Drug Foundation
provided advice to MPs on what fixes need to be put in
place. The recommendations included:

• Align our
product standards more closely with our lead export and
import destinations to bring more products to market

• Remove equity barriers created by high
prices by subsidising products.

• Provide a
statutory defence from prosecution for those who grow plants
for their or another’s medicinal use.

• Fund
education and prescribing information for doctors.

Down-classify CBD products from prescription medicines to
reduce prices and make products more available.

need to get some breathing space for a review because it’s
clear that the regulations are not delivering on the intent
of the law. We also recommend the introduction of a
statutory defence from prosecution to offer protection to
people who use cannabis to treat chronic pain, illness or
disability,” Ms Helm

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