National leader Simon Bridges has announced the details of a bill which would allow medicinal cannabis products to be treated like any other medicines and available from the chemist.

It is much broader than the Government bill before Parliament, which limits the use of medicinal cannabis to patients with terminal conditions.

It would be available on the recommendation of a doctor or nurse practitioner who would authorise a photo ID card for medicinal cannabis.

Manufacturing would come under strict licensing conditions, with standards like other medicines.


"New Zealanders deserve greater access to high-quality medicinal cannabis products to ease their suffering but we must have the right regulatory and legislative controls in place," Bridges said.

"The Government's bill utterly fails both those tests, so we will vote against it," he said.

It included only minor improvements to how cannabidiol products were treated, which the previous National government had already facilitated.

Under National's bill, the products would be available as oil, tablets or under-the-tongue sprays, but not as loose-leafed cannabis.

The bill is in the name of Whangārei MP and doctor Shane Reti, who has been on the health select committee considering the government bill. It is expected to be reported back to Parliament today after hearing hundreds of submissions.

Unless the Government picks up the bill, it will only go before the House if it is drawn from the regular ballot for private members' bills.

Bridges said the government bill was silent on how a medicinal cannabis regime would operate in practice.

"The Government has said it will increase access now and leave it to officials to think through the controls and the consequences later. That's typical of this Government but it's not acceptable so we're putting forward a comprehensive alternative."


National's proposed regime included:

• Medicinal cannabis products will be approved in the same way a medicine is approved by Medsafe. No loose leaf cannabis products will be approved.
• Medical practitioners will decide who should have access to a Medicinal Cannabis Card, which will certify them to buy medicinal cannabis products.
• Medicinal cannabis products will be pharmacist-only medicine.
• Cultivators and manufacturers must be licenced for commercial production. Licence holders and staff will be vetted to ensure they are fit and proper persons.
• A licensing regime that will create a safe market for medicinal cannabis products. Cultivators and manufacturers will not be able to be located within 5km of residential land, or 1km of sensitive sites such as schools and wahi tapu.
• No advertising of medicinal cannabis products to the public will be permitted.• The Ministry of Health will review the legislation in five years.

"National is determined to be a constructive Opposition working on new ideas and new policies," Bridges said.

National's bill was the result of significant work in recent months including study by MPs overseas and reflects a blend of international best practice, tailored to New Zealand.

"I encourage the Government to pick up the enormous amount of work done by National in Opposition and implement our comprehensive reforms to ensure New Zealanders in need can access high quality medicinal cannabis products to ease their suffering."