The New Zealand Government's medicinal cannabis scheme is currently under development. Legislation is expected to pass by the end of 2018, with regulations developed in 2019. An agency is to be established within the Ministry of Health to administer the scheme and licence domestic production to increase patient access to affordable products.
PharmaCann has analysed the legislation and existing policy development, and considered the needs of both patients and producers. To ensure safe and affordable access to medicinal cannabis products developed here in New Zealand, we believe the following issues deserve further consideration by regulators and policy makers.
Increased resourcing for MOH (developing policy, creating the Agency, public/prescriber education, consultants and advice, travel)
Engagement throughout the development process. Representation through NZMCC. Regular (monthly) meetings.
Timing of legislation and regulations
Pass legislation urgently. Develop regulations with a sense of urgency and in order of need.
Follow best practice for production of medicinal herbs.
Allow local genetics (including hemp), as in Europe, Israel, Canada and US states, to give local growers a level playing field, create jobs, and for regional growth opportunities.
Reduce costs by allowing near-pharmaceutical grades, with products available over the counter as well as by prescription. defined by dosage or delivery methods and including whole plant extracts.
Although clinical trials for efficacy should not be required, basic research such as toxicity and bioavailability will still be needed. Investigate ways to avoid animal testing.
Allow exports for industry to reach the scale needed to produce at lower costs, and to provide jobs and regional opportunities.
Recognise many patients are financially challenged. Investigate ways to make access more affordable, including subsidies through Pharmac.
Allow access to harm reduction equipment including vaporisers and other safer methods.
In addition to distributing to prescribers and pharmacies, support direct-to-patient provision (as in Canada).
Support ways to increase knowledge of cannabinoids, the ECS, and medicinal cannabis products (including unconsented products), among prescribers, pharmacists, patients and the public.