Medicinal marijuana Bill in the ballot
Green MP Julie Anne Genter has submitted a Member's Bill to make cannabis legal for Kiwis suffering chronic pain and terminal illness.
"We've seen a sea change in public attitudes about medicinal cannabis in recent years, thanks to the many brave people who have spoken out about their experiences," she said in a statement.
"My Bill would legalise cannabis and cannabis products for people who are suffering from terminal illness or any debilitating condition, with the support of a registered medical practitioner."
Presently, cannabis-based products can only be used with the permission of the Ministry of Health, with deals applications on a case-by-case basis. Only one product - Sativex - has been deemed to meet safety and efficacy requirements by Medsafe.
Ms Genter says the Government's recent changes haven't made much difference.
"We still don't have affordable access to medicinal cannabis in New Zealand… Sativex can cost $1200 a month, and is currently only available for multiple sclerosis."
"Unless lawful medicinal cannabis is made reasonably accessible, current strong demand will continue to be met largely by an unregulated black market."
Kiwis have been more open about their use of cannabis for medicinal reasons in recent years, the most high-profile perhaps ex-union leader Helen Kelly.
Oncologist Anthony Falkov told The Nation in April this year around half his patients were using it, and some Grey Power groups have taken up the fight.
Ms Genter hopes her Bill, if drawn from the ballot, will get cross-party support at its first reading "so that the Health Affairs Select Committee can hear from experts and everyday New Zealanders about how we can help alleviate suffering and chronic pain".
Her Bill coincides with a visit from medicinal cannabis specialist Dr David Bearman, who told The AM Show on Friday New Zealand was "4000 years" behind in legalising it.