Medicinal Cannabis Regulation Changes – What these mean for you

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Many of you may be aware that there have been some pretty big changes to the laws which govern medical cannabis recently, which may have resulted in changes to your medicine. We’re here to navigate these changes with you, so let’s take a look at what the changes are and what these mean for you.

October 1st 2021 saw some big regulatory changes for the distribution of medicinal marijuana in New Zealand. Due to the Transitional Medicinal Cannabis Scheme ending (a scheme that enabled the commercial manufacturing of cannabis), 13 products have now been removed from the market as they’re deemed illegal. Thousands of Cannabis Clinic patients were prescribed these 13, now illegal, products, so we wanted to sum up the information about the new situation we find ourselves in so we can better navigate this together.

What is the Transitional Medicinal Cannabis Scheme?

The Transitional Medicinal Cannabis Scheme was created by the government to allow New Zealand and international medicinal cannabis manufacturers to create products up to NZs quality standards – which are some of the strictest in the world. As of October 1st 2021, this transitional period ended and very few companies were able to get certified to Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP) standards and none could get their products to market in time. Unfortunately, the Minister of Health, Andrew Little, has not extended the scheme which means that 13 CBD products that have been prescribed to thousands of Kiwis are now illegal and unavailable.

Now as few as six CBD & THC products are available in NZ, and in the meantime, 20 are caught up in the GMP certification process and have been for over 6 months. Recently, two local medicinal cannabis companies, Helius and Rua Bioscience, have become GMP certified. While Rua Bioscience aren’t expected to get their products to market until the beginning of 2022, Helius launched their first two products – a CBD25 Isolate and a CBD100 Isolate – on the 7th of October.

My cannabis product is now unavailable – what can I do?

If your prescribed cannabis product is now unavailable, our best advice is to book a follow-up appointment with us so that we can offer you advice for your individual circumstances. In some cases, we may be able to access your previous medication, but most patients will need to switch to one of the six available GMP certified products.

We know this change won’t be easy and you may be worried about the switch of products, but we’re here to support you and advocate for you in these tough circumstances. Give us a call on 0800 CBD OIL (0800 223 645) or book a follow-up appointment and let’s explore your options together.

Let’s make a plan to help you navigate the CBD regulation changes

Book a follow-up with one of our fantastic doctors today

What does the future hold for medicinal cannabis?

Medicinal cannabis is still in the early stages of research which is why it’s counted as an unapproved substance, but that doesn’t mean that it’s dangerous to take. Currently, cannabis is legal for medical use under the 2018 Misuse of Drugs (Medicinal Cannabis) Amendment Act. It may be a while before there’s enough scientific evidence for it to become an approved substance in New Zealand, but that doesn’t mean it will always be as hard to get as it is now.

Sometime in the near future, those 20 products in the process of GMP certification will be out the other side and may become available to the public. NZ-owned companies will bring greater variety to the table for medicinal cannabis users. Helius has just had two of its products (CBD Isolates) approved and made available to the public and Rua Bioscience is anticipating an early 2022 launch – great news for us!

Currently, New Zealands’ GMP standards are being looked into to determine whether they could be relaxed to be in line with the EU and North American standards. This would enable a huge range of CBD and THC products to become available to Kiwis and would greatly increase the range of more affordable products as more international and national companies would be certified to trade in NZ. We’re hopeful that the standards will be relaxed and we will continue to advocate for all New Zealanders for this to happen.

Did you know, one of the main reasons for the delay in getting products through the GMP certification process is the lack of GMP laboratories in NZ? This means that for companies to get their medicinal cannabis products certified, they need to be sent overseas for testing. Early this month, the Ministry of Health approved one ISO-certified lab in New Zealand to test medicinal cannabis products to meet GMP standards, so hopefully the process will start to be a little bit quicker.

We know that changes to your medication can feel quite destabilising and many of our patients are worried about what the future will hold for them on their medicinal cannabis journey. Know that we are here to help in any way we can, our phone lines and email are always open so get in touch with us if you have any questions or concerns on 0800 CBD OIL (0800 223 645). Whether your current product is about to run out or you have a few months’ supply, we strongly recommend booking a follow-up consultation with your Cannabis Clinic doctor to make a plan for your treatment going forward.

Medicinal Cannabis Regulation Changes – What these mean for you

Let’s make a plan together!

Book a follow-up with one of our fantastic doctors today

Disclaimer – medicinal cannabis and CBD oil are unapproved medicines in NZ which means that there is no conclusive evidence for their effect, apart from Sativex. Many doctors do not routinely prescribe cannabis medicines. The above article was written for general educational purposes and does not intend to suggest that medicinal cannabis can be used to treat any health condition. Please consult with your healthcare provider. 

MBChB (Otago), BSc (Auckland) - As our tele-medicine doctor and author, Dr. Waseem keeps busy educating both patients and doctors about medicinal cannabis. He also consults with people from all over New Zealand, offering a listening ear and giving the most relevant advice.

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