11 Mar 2021

Temporary rules for medicinal cannabis extended until September

2:11 pm on 11 March 2021

The government has extended the temporary medicinal cannabis regulations to help with a continued supply of products.

Medical cannabis.

The government still intends bringing in new regulation standards relating to the ingredients and safety of medicinal cannabis products. Photo: flickr.com / creativecommons

The transitional regime - which governs minimum quality for medicinal cannabis products and licensing - came into effect last April and was due to expire next month.

Health Minister Andrew Little said the regulations had been extended until the end of September to ensure certainty of supply.

"The government is committed to making the system work and continuing access to prescribed medicinal cannabis products for patients who need them," he said.

"Two products from one company have been verified under the new regulations. However, the government wants to see multiple suppliers for price competitiveness.

"Covid-19 restrictions have limited the abilities of companies to apply under the regulations, have affected global supply chains and also added challenges to suppliers seeking to have products assessed.

"I am mindful of the risk that wholesalers could suspend imports in advance of the April 1 deadline and this would prevent patients from accessing prescribed medicines.

"By extending the deadline, patients will be still able to access products, while suppliers have the additional time they need to apply to the Medicinal Cannabis Agency for verification."

Little said that the government remained committed to bringing in the new regulation standards, because patients and doctors deserved to know that medicinal cannabis products contained what the ingredient list said. They also wanted to be assured that the products were free from contaminants and safe to consume.

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National Party health spokesperson Shane Reti Photo: RNZ / Samuel Rillstone

National Party health spokesperson Shane Reti said the government had ignored a Member's Bill introduced by the party in 2018, which could make medicinal cannabis more affordable and accessible to those who needed it.

"National first announced this legislation in 2018 and encouraged the government to pick up the enormous amount of work we had done to ensure New Zealanders in need could access high quality medicinal cannabis products sooner rather than later," he said.

"But Labour wasn't interested.

"This Bill is a more comprehensive alternative to the government's medicinal cannabis legislation. National warned the government that if it increased access and left it to officials to think through the controls and regulations later, there would be consequences."

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