NZ – Medical Cannabis About To Move From Little Choice To Virtually No Choice At Crazy Prices

This article from the NZ Drug Foundation explains how a SNAFU has become an absolute disaster fro NZ Medical Patients.


Here’s the introduction

D-Day approaches for new medicinal cannabis scheme

With the clock about to expire on a transitional medicinal cannabis scheme, the number of products available to patients is about to be slashed and prices are set to spike. Russell Brown takes a deep dive into the rules that take effect from 1 October 2021, and why it’s so hard to get products approved for sale.

Prescribing medicinal cannabis was so much simpler in the 1950s. Until the World Health Organisation asked our government to ban imports in 1955, bringing us into line with emerging United Nations policy, New Zealanders could go to their doctors and request a tincture of cannabis to treat a migraine or hypertension headache.

In 2021, it is once again possible to be prescribed a cannabis product. But this time around, not much is simple. Nearly 1400 days since then-Opposition leader Jacinda Ardern promised to legalise medical cannabis “within 100 days” of taking office, the birth pains of the regime ushered in by the Misuse of Drugs (Medicinal Cannabis) Amendment Act 2018 continue.

Although the Medicinal Cannabis Scheme has been working fairly well for several thousand patients, it faces a significant challenge in the wake of a decision not to further extend a transitional scheme that has allowed doctors to prescribe products that have not met the “minimum quality standards” set out in The Misuse of Drugs (Medicinal Cannabis) Regulations 2019.

From October 1, all medicinal cannabis products imported into or manufactured in New Zealand must be verified as meeting the minimum quality standards before they can be imported or supplied. The immediate result will be a sharp reduction in the range of CBD-only products available for prescription – and with that, at least a doubling in price. Patients now paying as little as $150 for a CBD product could be facing a near-$400 bill for an equivalent.

All of these products are imported. There are no New Zealand products available because not one product from a cluster of local companies has met the minimum quality standards set out in the regulations since they came into effect on April 1, 2020.

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