'We could fix that': Government's changes to medicinal cannabis Bill

The coalition between Labour and NZ First has suffered public and embarrassing cracks in its first year, with squabbles over justice reform, refugees and employment law.

But on medicinal cannabis, they appear to have reached consensus.

Newshub understands the Government plans to broaden its medicinal cannabis Bill to make the drug available to more people who need it. However it won't go as far as prescriptions for people with chronic pain.

"The desire on the part of this Government is united: we could fix that up - and also on the question of recreational cannabis," Mr Peters says.

Newshub understands the Government's medicinal cannabis Bill will be broadened to include people in palliative or end-of-life care.

At the moment, the Bill only gives a legal defence for terminally ill people - those with less than a year to live - to possess and use cannabis.

Newshub understands those with chronic pain still won't be covered because the term's considered too broad and hard to define.

Tracy Thomas's daughter Grace is in palliative care, and she calls it a "token change".

"It's still not going to take into account all those people who may not be palliative but they still have severe debilitating pain," she says.

It's not known exactly how many people are defined as terminally ill, but every year 9000 people die from cancer. A lot more - 24,000 - benefit from palliative care, but 379,000 people report they suffer from chronic pain.

The Government's medicinal cannabis Bill was always lacking, and National showed it up for that when it released a comprehensive alternative.

This change seems to be a response to that, and goes some way towards helping more people - but for many suffering from chronic pain, it will be seen as a political Band-Aid, not a solution.