Has New Zealand just Legalised Medicinal Cannabis?

  • New Zealand’s Government has removed restriction on CBD products
  • Doctors will be able to prescribe up to three months’ supply of CBD without needing approval from the Ministry of Health
  • Some barriers will remain, particularly regarding importing and exporting

New Zealand has taken its first step towards legalising cannabis for medicinal use. The government is lifting current restrictions on cannabidiol (CBD), the non-psychoactive cannabinoid found in cannabis. The Associate Health Minister, Peter Dunne, made the announcement last week that New Zealand will reclassify CBD, removing it from the controlled substance list.

“In practical terms, the changes mean CBD would be able to be prescribed by a doctor to their patient and supplied in a manner similar to any other prescription medicine.”

“…another positive move forward to remove some of the barriers that patients are faced with…” – Ross Bell

Mr. Dunne explained that part of the reason for legalising the cannabinoid extract was to help ensure patients have access to higher quality medicine, rather than relying on street dealers, making sure “people aren’t getting junk, but are getting reputable quality products.”

The law change is part of a long term deliberate policy direction to broaden access to medicinal cannabis: “In the longer term as the international market develops and as more quality products come available, I think it will prove to be beneficial to New Zealand patients.”

The decision to reform the law can largely be thanked to the tireless efforts of campaigners in New Zealand, include hero mother, Rose Renton.

Rose made national headlines with her campaign to get her son, Alex, access to cannabis for his sever epilepsy. Unfortunately, the ruling comes too late for Alex, who died earlier this year, but Rose said she know her son will be proud of the reform: “His soul is lighter, knowing he paved the way to help people get relief legally, that’s what his life has ended up being about.”

While the move to finally provides desperate patients an alternative to dangerous and addictive prescription drugs, there will still be some restrictions, such as a total ban of production of hemp, with the Associate Health Minister saying: “Farmers won’t be growing cannabis for medicinal cannabis in New Zealand full stop.

“This is about products that are CBD-based that are manufactured being able to be prescribed to New Zealand patients. There is a very limited market at the moment.”

The director of the NZ Drug Foundation director, Ross Bell applauded the move. Speaking to The New Zealand Herald, he praised the a “very good decision” based on expert evidence.

“It represents another positive move forward to remove some of the barriers that patients are faced with in accessing medical cannabis products.”

What do you think of New Zealand’s decision to allow doctors to prescribe CBD products? Or is it too small a step? Let us know in the comments.