What medicinal cannabis campaigners want from the Government

Medicinal cannabis campaigners are urging politicians to widen a Bill before Parliament.

The group, made up of people living with issues like chronic pain and neurological conditions, presented in Parliament on Wednesday.

Rebecca Reider, who presented to politicians at Parliament on Wednesday, told Newshub there are four main changes medicinal cannabis campaigners want to see.

1. Widen the legal defence to include anyone with a chronic and debilitating condition

The Bill in its current form allows people with a year or less to live a legal defence against prosecution.

Campaigners are asking politicians to widen the Bill to include anyone with a chronic or debilitating condition.

They say some politicians are nervous about widening access to cannabis.

Ms Reider says they shouldn't be.

"A doctor is qualified to decide whether someone has a debilitating condition," she told Newshub.

2. Allow caregivers to help patients obtain cannabis

A lot of patients aren't able to procure or prepare their own cannabis, Ms Reider says, and their caregivers or support people should be exempt from prosecution.

"There's a story told today of one patient who has multiple sclerosis, and when she's inhaling cannabis, she can't hold it to her mouth," Ms Reider said.

Chloe Swarbrick says it's clear chronic pain and caregivers are missing from the legislation.

"We have an opportunity to create the most comprehensive and compassionate legislation in the world, and recognise the reality of what's already happening with patients and their carers," she told Newshub.

3. Allow patients to grow their own cannabis

Campaigners say terminally ill patients will be forced to engage with the black market and with criminal activity unless they are allowed to grow their own plants.

"How else will they get it?" Ms Reider asked. "We think it's safest for patients to grow their own or have a caregiver grow it for them."

That's a point also made by Green Party MP Chloe Swarbrick, whose member's Bill - authored by Julie Anne Genter and picked up by Ms Swarbrick when Ms Genter became a minister - would have allowed patients to grow their own cannabis.

"The stop-gap defence in the Bill is silent on supply," Ms Swarbrick told Newshub on Wednesday.

4. Don't look to Australia

Ms Reider is concerned the Ministry of Health is looking at Australian legislation as an example.

"Australia has been a disaster for patient rights," she said.

Australia's federal health department says 350 patients have accessed Australian-grown cannabis products, with many doctors described as "reluctant" to prescribe.

The Government says extending the legal defence to include chronic illness is de facto legalisation.

Health Minister David Clark says the concern is "when you get to that particular group of people [people with debilitating conditions], there are a large number of people in that group, and the concern is that becomes de facto legalisation."

"We as a Government have looked at a range of options for medicinal cannabis. The solution that we've come up with represents the most progressive change in New Zealand and cannabis law reform that there's been, as far as I know, ever," Mr Clark told Newshub on Wednesday.

He said Julie Anne Genter's Bill, which was picked up by Chloe Swarbrick and would have extended medicinal cannabis to people with debilitating conditions, was "resoundly rejected by the Parliament".