The Ministry of Health now has the ability to provide medicinal cannabis for people with terminal or life threatening illness; but the process may not be any easier than it previously was.
Until now, the final decision over medicinal cannabis usage has rested with the Minister. Medical specialists will now be able to apply to the Ministry of Health on behalf of their patients.
But there is no confirmation that the process will be any less regulated than it has been before, even without the Minister being involved. Dunne’s announcement doesn’t clarify if medicinal cannabis will be available to everyone, nor does it speculate the price of the medicinal products.
Clearly, Dunne’s announcement is a direct answer to the promises that the Labour Party made earlier in the week. During a Facebook Live interview, Labour leader Andrew Little said that medicinal cannabis would be made legal “pretty quickly” in New Zealand if his party was elected this year.
In December last year, the Green Party said that it would legalise all cannabis for personal use. Today, the Green Party labelled Dunne’s announcement as “a step in the right direction”, while an Otago University professor warned the Ministry of Health to take a cautious approach.
Some argue that medicinal cannabis’ ability to relief pain isn’t convincing enough for a roll out, calling it an “emerging form of medicine”. For people with terminal illness, the benefits of medicinal cannabis are many, but there is a different discussion to be had for those who don’t fall under that category.