Paving the way for quality medicinal cannabis
New regulations will allow local cultivation and manufacture of medicinal cannabis products that will potentially help ease the pain of thousands of people, says Health Minister David Clark.
Today's regulations, which come into effect on April 1, 2020, set out the quality and licensing requirements for manufacturing and distributing medicinal cannabis.
"Many New Zealanders will have watched a loved one struggle with chronic pain, particular near the end of their lives. Medicinal cannabis products can make a real difference to people’s quality of life,” says David.
“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 medicinal cannabis licences are expected to be issued by mid-2020.
In other countries, locally grown product has taken over two years to come on the market. It’s expected locally grown product could be available sooner than this in New Zealand, partly due to the research underway already in New Zealand under existing licences.
“People with prescriptions for medicinal cannabis products can currently fill prescriptions with products sourced from overseas, which are often costly,” says David.
“I’m confident increased competition from local manufacturers will drive prices down over time.
“However, sadly we know some people won’t be able to wait for domestic manufacturers to begin production.
“So as a compassionate measure, people eligible to receive palliation will continue to be exempt from prosecution for illicit cannabis. That will be reviewed once the Scheme has been in operation and more quality products become available.
"These regulations put in place the infrastructure that allows us to locally grow, manufacture and provide quality medicinal cannabis products that are intended to make a real difference to people living in pain and also those nearing the end of their lives."