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The Government’s announcement that, despite passing legislation last year, it’s now consulting with the public on proposed regulation and standards on medicinal cannabis shows just how badly it has managed this process, National’s Health spokesperson Michael Woodhouse says.

“The Government has really mucked up the order when passing its medicinal cannabis Bill last year. It’s bad enough it spends long periods of time on working groups doing the work on policies it should have done in Opposition, but in this case it has rushed through a Bill and only now has it started the discussion around it.

“This is an outrageous misuse of the policy process. The Bill essentially left the details of a medicinal cannabis scheme to officials with no further parliamentary oversight over the final form and function of the Bill. New Zealanders elect us to make decisions, not to pass off the big calls to others.

“National came up with a comprehensive scheme for medicinal cannabis that improves access and affordability for New Zealanders in need a year ago. But the Government couldn’t swallow its pride and acknowledge the excellent framework we developed.

“The consultation proposal comes as no surprise, considering the light touch provided by the Government’s medicinal cannabis Bill last year. Many of the questions asked in this proposal were answered in National’s proposed amendments.

“Establishing quality standards will take some time, but we could have been a year further down the road if the Government had taken on some of our proposed amendments. New Zealand is losing export market share while the Government lets officials talk.

“The consultation proposal and other processes are already well behind schedule. Under us, those eligible Kiwis in pain could be receiving affordable medicinal cannabis by now, instead they are forced to wait while the Government goes through its consultation process.”

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