Back to top
Better patient access to medicinal cannabis is coming. The Misuse of Drugs (Medicinal Cannabis) Amendment Act passed in December 2018, and the government promises regulations very soon.
Recent changes include:
Read the legislation here: Misuse of Drugs (Medicinal Cannabis) Amendment Act.
Last minute changes to the Bill at the end of 2018 didn’t go far enough for many patients and their advocates. For example, the Government didn’t agree to extend the criminal defence to those with a severe and debilitating illness, patients’ families, or compassionate growers. They also didn’t agree to allow patients to cultivate their own cannabis.
Regardless of these omissions and deficiencies, this is still a historic step forward. New Zealand is finally following the lead of other countries who have been sophisticated enough to put in a legal regime around medicinal cannabis. We are finally going to show some compassion to medicinal cannabis patients.
The Health Minister David Clark has promised regulations will be established by the end of 2019 to govern licencing, production, prescription and consumption.
We expect the regulations will address many of the concerns patients have. Cannabis-based medicines should be affordable and accessible to all who need them, not just a narrowly prescribed few.
Cannabis isn’t the cure-all elixir that it's sometimes made out to be, but it clearly has a range of valuable benefits.
Strong evidence shows that cannabis or cannabinoids are effective for the treatment of chronic pain, to combat nausea for chemotherapy patients, and for easing the symptoms of multiple sclerosis. There is also moderate or limited evidence of its effectiveness in treatment for many other conditions. In addition, there are a growing number of compelling personal stories about cannabis helping patients with symptoms that could not be relieved with other medicines.
All medicines prescribed by your doctor go through a rigorous research and approval process. Cannabis shouldn’t be any different. And we expect the government regulations will be aiming for these ‘gold standards’.
However, it could take years for a full range of affordable pharmaceutical-grade cannabis products to be developed. While we wait for the ‘gold standards’, we want to make sure the regulations give patients much better access as soon as possible.
Health Minister David Clark has expressed his willingness to work with patients, doctors and others to ensure the regulations work.
Download a copy of our submission on the Misuse of Drugs (Medicinal Cannabis) Amendment Bill.
Medical Cannabis Awareness New Zealand has published a 'Medicinal Cannabis Around the World' for rolling out medicinal cannabis regulations which might be of interest.