New Zealand passed a law after its third reading Tuesday that allows thousands of patients to legally use medical cannabis, as the country gears up for a referendum on recreational cannabis.
The bill, called the Misuse of Drugs (Medical Cannabis) Amendment, removes restrictions on medical cannabis. While it will take up to a year for regulations to be put in place for patients with conditions such as chronic pain, the bill provides legal defence for terminally ill patients to consume cannabis as soon as it has received royal assent.
Legal defence was first only provided to patients with one year or less to live, but was expanded to all palliative care patients in its second reading.
Products with cannabidiol (CBD), a non-psychoactive component of cannabis used to treat inflammation, pain and anxiety, were also fully decriminalized.
The bill comes ahead of a planned referendum on recreational cannabis use, which the government has promised will be held within two years.
New Zealand’s Labour Party, Greens and New Zealand First Party supported the bill.
Health Minister Dr. David Clark said that …