Hope in a Time of Need: New Zealand Launches Medical Cannabis Plan for Patients

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New Zealand has made a huge decision that couldn’t have been timelier. As of this moment, a lot of places around the globe have been put in lockdown, making it difficult for medical cannabis patients to acquire their prescriptions. Fortunately, New Zealand’s Medicinal Cannabis Agency, a branch under the Ministry of Health, successfully launched its new Medical Cannabis Scheme on April 1, 2020.

Its goal is to enhance the quality and improve the accessibility of medical cannabis products for patients. Let’s take a deeper look into how this scheme benefits patients in New Zealand!

The Ministry of Health’s Role

New Zealand’s Ministry of Health developed the scheme to grant the domestic manufacture, distribution, and cultivation of medical cannabis. They will also be setting out the quality and licensing requirements for future medical cannabis providers. The scheme is in line with the commencement of the Misuse of Drugs (under Medicinal Cannabis) Regulations of 2019.

Dr. David Clark, Minister of Health, explains that the new regulations will permit local cultivation and production of medicinal cannabis products that could help alleviate ailment-related pain for people. According to a research paper co-authored by David Moore (an accountant and economist) and Preston Davies (a seasoned economist) titled “The Problem of Chronic Pain and Scope for Improvements in Patient Outcomes” about 770,000 New Zealanders suffer from chronic pain—a number that is expected to rise around 1.26 million by 2048—who need the help of medical cannabis. Dr. Clark verifies that by mid-2020, the first medicinal cannabis licenses are anticipated to be issued.

Expanding Accessibility for Thousands of Patients

Currently access is limited, medical cannabis patients can get prescriptions for cannabis products, but they would have to source it from other countries, a transaction that is extremely costly for the patients. The scheme aims to greatly lower the cost by providing them with locally manufactured medicine.

The types of medical cannabis products allowed under the scheme include a variety of liquids and tablets, and dried. Although they do not permit products that can be smoked, vaporised products are acceptable. The only way that patients can get a hold of the cannabis products is via prescription from a doctor.

The Rise of New Zealand’s Cannabis Products

The Medicinal Cannabis Agency has started taking applications for licenses, and those who’d like to apply should already be able to meet the requirements set out by the Agency. In particular, all of the products must meet a minimum quality standard ordained by the new regulations, designed to present doctors with quality and consistent medicinal cannabis products.

Although it’s going to take a while for the Medical Cannabis Scheme to fully take effect, medical cannabis patients have a more promising future to look forward to. A future where they won’t have to spend an irrational amount of money for their medicine. A future we can all look forward to.