Home Opinion Heather du Plessis-Allan: Medicinal marijuana debate continues to infuriate

Heather du Plessis-Allan: Medicinal marijuana debate continues to infuriate

Doesn't the medicinal marijuana debate infuriate you? Just the fact we are having the debate. Still.

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Doesn’t the medicinal marijuana debate infuriate you? Just the fact we are having the debate. Still.

The first time I felt properly angry about it was when Helen Kelly was still alive. Dying of cancer is probably a better way to describe her situation at the time. Or maybe “illegally procuring weed”.

It infuriated me that she had to break the law to enjoy her final days.

She said cannabis was the only thing that took away her pain. It was the only thing that gave her a full night’s sleep. Nothing else could do that. Not even morphine.

So there she was, with a broken back and cancer in her lungs, and she was supposed to suffer. Her final days were supposed to be agonising. Because cannabis is illegal. And rules about plants are more important than a human’s final days with her family.

Well that makes me furious. To this day it still does.

Which means I have precious little time for the games the National Party is playing with medicinal cannabis. And please, every time I say “medicinal cannabis”, feel free to swap that out for “better life quality” if you like.

Last week, the National Party pulled its support from the Coalition Government’s bill to legalise medicinal cannabis. Instead National announced it had drawn up its own bill. A competitor bill.

National said its bill is better. National is right. Its bill is better. It’s far more detailed. It stipulates who can access medicinal cannabis. How they can access medicinal cannabis. What form that medicinal cannabis will be in. Plus, the bill helps more sufferers.

Cannabis wouldn’t be limited to those people dying in pain. It would also extend those people living in pain.

But, that bill isn’t going anywhere fast. It’s been dropped into Parliament’s Deka-bought biscuit jar. That’s where it will stay for a short time or forever. It’s impossible to predict. It’s what’s called a member’s bill and member’s bills are only occasionally drawn from that jar in a lucky-dip scenario. So, as I said, it might never come out.

Which is excruciating and cruel to sufferers who needed pain relief yesterday. Those who died in agony today. Or will die in agony tomorrow. And the day thereafter, and the day thereafter, and so on until we get lucky and a hand grabs the right piece of paper in that jar.

National didn’t need to put its bill into that jar. It could have taken those ideas and worked them into the existing bill that the Coalition Government has before Parliament right now. National is supposed to be working on that bill. Its MPs are sitting on select committees considering that bill. It’s listening to submissions from New Zealanders about that bill. That’s how it got the ideas for its own much better version.

Whatever National says in its own defence should be treated like Wellington’s prevailing wind. Expect it. Ignore it. Shut the door.

National was 100 per cent playing games. It announced its own bill on exactly the same day that the Government was due to table its bill in Parliament. Leader Simon Bridges wore a green tie. When have you ever seen him wear a green tie before?

To be fair, I’d give National a mark of A+ for clever politics. It totally upstaged the Government. It showed how much more experienced its MPs are. It stole the limelight on what should’ve been the Government’s day to feel proud. It even managed to look slightly progressive, which is handy given the party is led by someone so Conservative he makes Muldoon look like a gay pride parader.

But clever politics won’t make anyone’s life better. It’s no pain relief for someone’s dying mum.

It’s just cynical and infuriating. So A+ for playing politics. F for looking after New Zealanders in pain.

Source: NZ Herald

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