New Zealand’s Medicinal Cannabis Agency has announced a series of major changes to the country’s Medicinal Cannabis Scheme aimed at fostering economic and research opportunities for the local industry.
Implemented on April 1, 2020, the Scheme was designed to enhance patient access. But feedback from the industry indicated some requirements were impeding this emerging and rapidly evolving domestic industry.
“The intent of the Medicinal Cannabis Scheme was to improve access to quality medicinal cannabis products for New Zealand patients,” said Manatū Hauora (Ministry of Health) Deputy Director-General Regulatory Services Chris James. “These amendments will help ensure our local industry can continue to be commercially viable.”
The three principal changes include broadening the medicinal cannabis category definitions to include a wider variety of plant forms. There will also be modification of requirements for medicinal cannabis exports to enable New Zealand companies to tap into international markets more easily.
Among these modifications will be enabling the export of cannabis seed. Also to be permitted are exports of starting material, cannabis-based ingredients and medicinal products for the purposes of testing, analysis or research; without these items needing to meet NZ’s strict minimum quality standard.
The third major change will be the ability to issue licences to possess controlled drugs for non-therapeutic research activities using legally-sourced medicinal cannabis or industrial hemp.
Minor technical changes to the Scheme include:
- Updates to pesticide requirements.
- Broadening permitted pharmacopeial tests, excipients (substances other than the active ingredient) and container material requirements.
- Broadening laboratory accreditation requirements for some tests.
- Reducing areas of duplicative testing.
Mr. James said the revisions would contribute to a sustainable medicinal cannabis industry.
“Supporting a local industry that produces locally grown and manufactured products for domestic and export purposes benefits both industry and those patients for whom it is prescribed,” he stated.
The Ministry stressed the changes will not enable recreational use of cannabis or allow patients to grow their own cannabis, nor will they negatively impact availability of medicinal cannabis via prescription from a New Zealand registered doctor.
Further information on the changes can be found here.