Regulations announced today that set out the quality and licensing requirements for manufacturing and distributing medicinal cannabis will come into effect next April.
Regulations announced today, which set out the quality and licensing requirements for manufacturing and distributing medicinal cannabis, will come into effect next April.
Minister of Health David Clark said he expected the first medicinal cannabis licenses to be issued mid-next year.
"There is already considerable expertise in this area with 20 companies currently licensed to grow cannabis for research purposes and another 238 growing industrial hemp. It's expected that at least some of these companies will apply for licences for medicinal cannabis," Dr Clark said.
In other countries locally grown product has taken over two years to come on the market.
However, Dr Clark said it could be sooner than that in New Zealand, partly because of the research already underway under the existing licences.
Increased competition from local manufacturers should also drive down the price of costly medicinal cannabis products, currently sourced from overseas, he said.
The exemption from prosecution for possessing and using cannabis will be reviewed once the scheme is up and running, and more quality products are available.