Health Minister Andrew Little says the Government has no plans for an amnesty for the thousands of people in the illegal market for medicinal cannabis.
Instead he says that police should use their prosecutorial discretion until New Zealand cannabis-based medicines hit the market later this year.
His comments come as Green MP Chlöe Swarbrick released figures about Customs intercepting cannabis at the border, some of which was intended for the medicinal market given how easy it is to procure New Zealand-grown cannabis.
In the year to March 31, 2021, Customs intercepted cannabis products 121 times, or once every third day, including a total of 3.37kg of cannabis leaf, 282g of cannabis oil and 3.3kg of cannabis resin.
Swarbrick, the MP for Auckland Central, has been advocating for her constituent and TV presenter Katy Thomas, whose 6-year-old son Edward wrote to Swarbrick because his medicinal cannabis oil - prescribed by his GP to treat seizures - has been held up at Customs.
"This is despite the medication containing no THC, isomer, ester, ether or salt, and being imported by the patient's doctor to their clinic address. Meanwhile, night after night this 6-year-old boy is suffering relentless, potentially fatal seizures," Swarbrick said in a letter to Little.
Swarbrick asked Little to review the definition of a CBD product; Medsafe destroyed Edward's medicine because the CBD level was a fraction above the 2 per cent cannabidiol limit.
She also asked for an amnesty for so-called "green fairies", who illicitly supply cannabis medicine to patients who cannot afford the products, such as Sativex, that are legally available - at a cost of about $1000 a month.
The Government is looking to increase access to medicinal cannabis, but Little said he was waiting for New Zealand products to hit the market later this year.
Products are yet to hit the market because producers have to meet strict standards that were set out in regulations, which were passed in December 2019.
"Once we get that in place, we'll be in a position to review what's happening in price," Little said.
He "totally" had sympathy for those who couldn't afford Sativex in the meantime, but there were no plans for an amnesty for either green fairies or for patients.
"We're not contemplating anything along those lines at this point."
An amnesty already exists for patients, but only if they are palliative.
He told the Herald that police were required to exercise a "public interest" discretion - which is also being reviewed at the moment.
"As a general rule, I think this Government has indicated that the way we want drug laws to be enforced is on the basis of public interest considerations."
But Swarbrick said that put police in a difficult position of being judge and jury for who should and should not have access to illicit cannabis medicine without being charged.
"Certain police absolutely did not expect to come into the force in order to decide whether people deserve medicine."
Yesterday Waikato man Jason Tong, who is facing cannabis supply charges, said he was giving cannabis to elderly people for free for pain relief.
The medicinal cannabis regulations will be reviewed by mid-December this year, but Little said the terms of the review are limited to the amnesty for palliative patients.
Swarbrick said that didn't help patients whose products are illegal because of the "seemingly arbitrary" 2 per cent cannabidiol limit for a CBD product.
"There are those who are trying to operate under a legal framework - like Katy Thomas - and finding that the legal framework simply isn't working because of just how strict and stringent the rules are.
"Then you have the people who end up having to go to green fairies because of the barriers to access (legal medicine). I think absolutely that an amnesty is necessary in order to bring this issue out into the light."