11 Mar 2016

NZ likely to follow Australia on medical cannabis

7:35 pm on 11 March 2016

New Zealand is likely to follow Australia once it provides medical cannabis for use, says Associate Health Minister Peter Dunne.

250614. Photo Diego Opatowski / RNZ. Leader profiles. Peter Dunne, leader of the United Future political party.

Photo: RNZ / Diego Opatowski

Mr Dunne said trials to assess the safety of such drugs were underway in Australia but were probably still two years off completion.

"Clinical trials that produce viable products in Australia that the therapeutic goods agency approves as being able to be prescribed, it's very likely that MedSafe would follow suit."

Mr Dunne said no manufacturers had come forward expressing an interest in conducting clinical trials in New Zealand for a medical cannabis product.

Currently, the Misuse of Drugs Act has an exemption for people wanting to bring in drugs for medicinal purposes.

The law states that a person may bring any controlled drug into New Zealand with them if it's for their own medical use, and it was legally supplied to them overseas for their treatment, and it is no more than one month's worth of treatment.

Mr Dunne said he did not expect people to be prosecuted for using medical cannabis.

"I do not expect, and it's not my responsibility anyway, but I do not expect the police or the authorities to be running around persecuting people who are using cannabis sourced illegally."

The drug is already legal for medical use in several American states, and both Queensland and Victoria in Australia expect to legalise it next year.

Get the RNZ app

for ad-free news and current affairs