By Henry Cooke

The Government has passed its medicinal cannabis bill, which will establish a regulated scheme within a year and give those close to death a legal defence before then.

After a long road to third reading the bill passed on Tuesday afternoon with the support of Labour, the Greens, and NZ First.

Both the Greens and NZ First won some concessions to the bill, which has been criticised by medicinal marijuana advocates for not going far enough - and by National as "decriminalisation by stealth".