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It is currently illegal to use unprocessed cannabis for pain relief or other medical use in New Zealand, although new regulations are being developed that may allow this in the future.

Products containing cannabis are classified as ‘controlled drugs’ in New Zealand, and Ministerial approval is required before most products can be prescribed by a doctor. The exceptions are Sativex (for patients who have multiple sclerosis), and products containing a cannabis extract called cannabidiol, with no psychoactive properties.

Patients often find it both difficult and expensive to obtain and get approval for medicines containing cannabis in New Zealand. For example, Sativex often costs patients more than $1000 per month to buy.

There is good evidence that cannabis benefits some people

The benefits are greater than the potential harms

Cannabis should be treated like any other medicine

Good products are not yet available. Patients need safe and affordable access in the meantime

The public support legal reform

The government has introduced a bill to make medicinal cannabis more available

Watch our Policy Manager Kali Mercier explain what’s lacking in the Misuse of Drugs (Medicinal Cannabis) Amendment Bill, and how it could be improved.

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