A "loophole" law allowing patients to import medicinal cannabis into New Zealand will not be changed, according to Associate Health Minster Peter Dunne.
The loophole means anyone entering the country can lawfully carry with them a one-month supply of medicinal cannabis or cannabis-related product, as long as it was legally prescribed by a medical practitioner overseas.
Dunne confirmed that it was "potentially possible" to bring a medicinal cannabis product prescribed overseas for their own use for a maximum of one month, without repeat.
"That has been in the law for over 40 years, and applies to all medicinal products, not just cannabis related products," he said.
Dunne said any importation of a cannabis-related product would be subject to border control requirements but that it will not be possible to bring in raw cannabis as it is prohibited by law.
"I am not proposing any immediate action in respect of this provision, but will monitor the situation if and when cannabis-related products become an issue," he concluded.
However, Nelson lawyer Sue Grey said the position of New Zealand Customs on the issue was "unlawful".
She recently received a statement form a Customs official advising that the department's policy would be to seize any cannabis products that were brought into New Zealand by arriving passengers.
"Even if it is disclosed on the arrivals form, is lawfully obtained overseas, was supported by a medical prescription and is for a months supply or less," said the official.
"I believe this policy is unlawful," said Grey. "In breach of representations on their website and it breaches fundamental human rights and I invite New Zealand Customs to urgently review their position."
New Zealand Customs communications advisor Prasheeta Ram-Taki said Custom's role was to enforce legislation at the border on behalf of government agencies and they are currently working with the Ministry of Health to clarify the Government's application of exemption in section 8 of the Act at the border.
"The statement provided to Ms Grey is in accordance with Custom's current operating procedure enforcing the Misuse of Drugs Act," Ram-Taki said.
In an interview with RNZ last week Dunne back-tracked over the interpretation of the law and was reported saying law professor Andrew Geddis was wrong to suggest people could bring cannabis products into New Zealand.
Grey was quick to follow up on Dunne's claims and sent an OIA to both Dunne and Customs Minister Nicky Wagner asking for clarification about policy at the border.
The loophole was exposed by Grey when a Golden Bay woman, Rebecca Reider, avoided a lengthly jail sentence last month and received a discharge without conviction at the Nelson District Court.
Reider faced raft of criminal charges including importing cannabis chocolate bars prescribed by her family doctor in California which she then sent to her Collingwood address and were intercepted at Customs.
Grey argued because Reider was lawfully prescribed drugs while visiting overseas and the quantity was no more than one month's supply to treat a medical condition, it should have been legal.
President of the Aotearoa Legalise Cannabis Party Abe Gray said the argument for the legalisation of medical cannabis, and even for full scale recreational legalisation, has already been won overseas in a world of globalised travel, commerce and media, all connected by the internet.
"It will be impossible to suppress not only truth but also commerce as the importation loophole clearly shows," he said.
Gray said that for New Zealand to continue resisting cannabis legalisation is not only silly, "but also totally cruel and inhumane towards patients who are actually suffering right now."