New Zealand’s government announced last week it will ease restrictions on the non-intoxicating cannabinoid, cannabidiol.
The changes will see a removal of the requirement for doctors to gain ministerial approval to prescribe cannabidiol and requirements for pharmacies, prescribers and wholesalers to hold an import licence. For the latter group, the changes will also involve fewer requirements for storage, and maintenance of controlled drug records and stock keeping.
Additionally, prescriptions would be allowed for up to three months’ supply of cannabidiol instead of just one month currently.
“I have taken advice from the Expert Advisory Committee on Drugs (EACD) that CBD should not be a controlled drug and am pleased Cabinet has now accepted my recommendation to make this change,” said Associate Health Minister Peter Dunne.
“This change is about future-proofing access to CBD products, as the reality is that there will continue to be barriers beyond New Zealand’s control to people accessing such products from overseas.”
The changes are expected to be in place in the next couple of months.
The driving forces behind all this were medical cannabis campaigner Rose Renton and her lawyer, Sue Grey, who have battled tirelessly to improve access to cannabis medicines.
Sue Grey congratulated the Minister on the announcement.
“Well done Associate Minister Peter Dunne for finally acting on the expert advice from Dr Keith Bedford and others that he has been sitting on since at least October 2016. Every baby step is to be applauded,” she said.
However, Ms. Grey says the Government should change laws to recognise cannabinoids as human endocannabinoild system supplements, “… and empower the people to exercise their freedom of choice to use cannabis and other herbs and foods to promote health and wellbeing.”
Ms. Grey states the cannabis situation is a human rights issue that goes to the heart of democracy and principled government.
As for Rose Renton, while acknowledging the win as a positive step and a “great day for New Zealand medicine”, she states the battle isn’t over.
“It’s still only half the plant. There’s a lot of conditions that benefit from the THC [the main psychoactive part]. We’ve won half the race.”
The Green Party of Aotearoa New Zealand also welcomed the announcement, but said it didn’t go far enough.
“It’s good seeing policy change that will help some of the people who are currently suffering, but the high cost of importing these medicinal products continues to be a barrier,” stated Julie-Anne Genter MP
“My Bill would ensure that sick people have affordable access. Why should people have to pay thousands of dollars a month for imported medicinal cannabis products, when the plant is very cheap to grow here?”
Cannabidiol is being hailed as a revolutionary medicine by some – you can learn more about CBD here.