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Medicinal cannabis bill voted down

Wednesday 01 Jul 2009 12:00a.m.

Medicinal cannabis bill voted down

Politicians have voted against a law change that would allow cannabis to be used for specific medicinal purposes.

The bill was tabled in 2002 and has taken seven years ago to come back before the house.

Those who say cannabis is their only option are disappointed with the opposition to the law change.

"A lot of the other medication that you get from your doctors actually doesn't work for us, you know," says Green Cross campaigner Billy McKee. "If I could get medication from my doctor that worked for me then I'd just use it, but the medication I get from my doctor makes me really, really sick."

Medicinal cannabis is already used in thirteen states in the US, along with Canada, Spain, Germany and the Netherlands.

The Green Party bill would have allowed doctors in New Zealand to prescribe cannabis for 22 approved illnesses and eligible patients would have been given an identification card allowing them to grow, possess and consume marijuana.

ACT MP Heather Roy says that the stance is supported by science.

"There's very good scientific evidence to show that some medical conditions are improved by the use of cannabis," she says.

But most MPs don't agree and say the bill is too flawed. They fear that it could lead to wider issues with the drug.

"Making the leaf available is simply a back door way of making it more widely available to everyone so no, no support," United Future leader Peter Dunne says.

 The Law Commission is currently holding a review of the Misuse of Drugs Act and when the results come back later this month, Green co-leader Metiria Turei says she will set out to tackle the topic again.

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