NZ launches new Medical Cannabis Scheme
New Zealand launches new Medical Cannabis Scheme to help patients gain better access to cannabis medicines
In the last few decades, research studies on cannabis-based products or cannabidiol (CBD) have gained momentum around the world. There is now credible evidence of the real therapeutic benefits for a range of conditions such as neuropathic pain, epilepsy, multiple sclerosis, anxiety and arthritis, amongst many others.
Countries with laws legalising or decriminalising cannabis for medical reasons include Australia, Canada, Chile, Colombia, the Czech Republic, Finland, Germany, the Netherlands, Peru, Turkey, Uruguay and the USA (some states).
Doctors opting for cannabis therapies have tended to face a complex and time-consuming set of protocols—initiatives like this will make the experience better for both Doctors and patients.
New Zealand launches new scheme
In April 2020, New Zealand’s Medicinal Cannabis Agency launched its new Medical Cannabis Scheme. This scheme is set to improve access to quality medical cannabie products for patients.
Until recently, New Zealand medical practitioners had to gain approval from the Ministry of Health to prescribe any cannabis-based products. However, the New Zealand government has since passed the Misuse of Drugs Amendment Regulations 2017, which reduces previous restrictions.
Although patient access to medical marijuana has improved since the law change, the Ministry of Health explicitly points out that the use of unprocessed or non-standardised cannabis leaf or flower preparations is still restricted. You can read all information for health professionals on the Ministry of Health website.
The regulation amendment means that CBD is now no longer classed as a controlled drug and allows Kiwi doctors to prescribe CBD products at their discretion. Pharmacies, medical practitioners and wholesalers are also exempt from the requirement to have an import licence for CBD products.
New Zealand’s Minister of Health, Dr David Clark, told Health Europa that new regulations will also allow local cultivation and manufacture of medicinal cannabis products to potentially help ease the pain of thousands of people.
“Over time, this Government’s medicinal cannabis scheme will help people ease their suffering by making a wider range of quality medicinal cannabis products available. There is huge international interest in the potential of medicinal cannabis. These regulations mean New Zealand companies will be well placed to manufacture for both the local and international market.
“There is already considerable expertise in this area with 20 companies currently licensed to grow cannabis for research purposes and another 238 growing industrial hemp. It’s expected that at least some of these companies will apply for licences for medicinal cannabis.”
The first local medicinal cannabis licences are expected to be issued by mid-2020 with the aim to bring down the cost for the patient with locally produced medicine.
There is no doubt that this is a fast-growing area of medicine, and will play a significant part in alleviating the chronic pain that many people suffer.