New Zealand’s Green party spokesperson for drug law reform Chlöe Swarbrick has renewed calls for the government to extend transitional arrangements for the country’s new medicinal cannabis framework beyond today’s deadline (September 30).
The move comes after minister for health Andrew Little rejected Swarbrick’s plea in a written answer last week.
Swarbrick insisted thousands of patients will be cut off from their medicine when the transitional period ends tonight and products that fail to meet strict regulatory standards are taken off the market.
She said: “The minister will be leaving thousands of patients in the lurch and forcing them to suffer unnecessarily. He could easily fix this with the stroke of a pen.”
“A further extension to the transitional period would mean patients can continue to be prescribed products to ease their pain instead of paying double the price for what they need, or becoming criminals for accessing the black market.”
Swarbrick pointed to the decision in March to extend the transitional period for a further six months in order to allow more products to become verified.
“Six months later, no more products are verified in New Zealand,” she said.
“Letting the transitional standards expire will put more pressure on prescribers and direct importations, which wastes Customs’ time and holds up medicine for sick folks.
“Along with patients and prescribers, we’re asking the minister to fix this with the stroke of a pen as he did in March. We’re also asking for the basics of this fundamentally unfit law to be fixed.
“We want to see a compassionate and caring Aotearoa, where people can access the medicine they need to live a life free of pain. A law that wasn’t designed to enable proper access can’t even be called broken. This system is not working by design.”
The end of the transitional period sees 13 medicinal cannabis products that were previously available become illegal as they do not meet regulatory requirements.