Kiwis have been invited to have their say on proposed new rules for medicinal cannabis in New Zealand.
NZ’s Ministry of Health has released regulatory proposals for the nation’s medical cannabis scheme and is encouraging feedback from all interested parties, including the public.
New Zealand’s Misuse of Drugs (Medicinal Cannabis) Amendment Bill was passed late last year, which required regulations to be developed for the commercial cultivation and manufacture of products, plus the setting of related standards so medical practitioners can prescribe with more confidence.
The overall goal of the Medical Cannabis Scheme is to improve patient access to good quality and affordable medicines. It will only cover products originating from the cannabis plant; i.e. not those manufactured from synthetic cannabinoids. Products will only be available as prescription medicines that are prescribed by a medical practitioner.
“Making medicinal cannabis more readily available has the potential to help ease the suffering of thousands of people who are living in pain, so it’s important we get these regulations right,” said Minister of Health Dr David Clark.
At 109 pages, the public consultation document makes for a lengthy read and is comprised of a number of sections covering topics including:
- Scheme overview
- Proposed quality standards
- Licensing of products
- Distribution of products
- Proposed prescribing requirements
- Controls for products
- Proposed licensing fees.
“I encourage the health sector, industry and the public to engage so the final regulations can be shaped by a wide range of perspectives,” said Dr. Clark.
The Medicinal Cannabis Scheme consultation document can be downloaded here. The consultation period runs until Wednesday 7 August and interested parties can contribute their feedback via this page. The Ministry of Health will examine feedback and consult the country’s Medicinal Cannabis Advisory Group prior to making recommendations to the government; including any proposed changes.
A group that will no doubt have a lot to say about the proposed regulations is Medical Cannabis Awareness New Zealand (MCANZ); who were very vocal in the leadup to the legislation being passed. On a related note, MCANZ is currently undertaking the country’s first survey of illicit cannabis use for therapeutic purposes, with view to better informing prescribers and policymakers about barriers, usage habits and demographics.
The MoH says it is aiming to have settled on regulations by 18 December 2019 and to have the scheme operational in the first quarter of next year.
Medical cannabis has strong support in New Zealand from its citizens, and increasingly from pharmacists and doctors.