Yes, CBD oil is legal in NZ. And thanks to the Misuse of Drugs (Medicinal Cannabis) Regulations 2019, THC is also now legally prescribable without restriction.

This guide will take you through everything you need to know about CBD in NZ: what is it? is it legal? how do you access it? how to get a prescription for CBD oil? is it safe? what are the side effects? and more.

Let me get you started then!

1 What is CBD Oil?

CBD stands for Cannabidiol and it is an extract of the cannabis plant. There are also many other extracts of cannabis and these compounds are labelled cannabinoids in general. Another type of cannabinoid compound is THC.

CBD has many properties and benefits. However, the most important things I want you to know here is that:

  • CBD is totally non psychoactive – no matter how much you take of it and how you take it, I can assure you it will not make you high

  • CBD is non addictive – no matter how long you use it for and how much you take, there is no addiction potential

CBD is very well tolerated – compared to many other medicines which have side effects, CBD is tolerated very well and side effects from it are rare!

2 What Are The Benefits of CBD Oil?

CBD oil has many benefits, some of which are well understood and some of which are not. Don’t take my word for it.

In 2017, a report from the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine said that there was really good evidence that cannabinoids are helpful in:

  • Chronic pain

  • Treated nausea and vomiting

  • Helping multiple sclerosis patients

  • Improving sleep

  • Fibromyalgia

3 Is CBD Oil Legal in NZ?

Yes, it certainly is. But you are only able to purchase it and use it if you have a doctors prescription for it. And any doctor in NZ can prescribe it for you, including your GP.

However, you need to be careful as the law limits how much other cannabinoid chemicals the prescription you use should contain. The Ministry of Health has made this clear by restricting products to 98% CBD at the minimum.

This means that for CBD to be legal, the CBD must be at least 98% from the total concentration of active cannabinoid chemicals in it. The other chemicals can contain THC or other helpful cannabinoids.

4 What Is Full Spectrum CBD Oil And Is It Legal In NZ?

When you talk about CBD oil that is “full spectrum”, it means that it contains not only CBD, but also other cannabinoids chemicals including THC. These are present in small amounts.

These compounds include CBN, CBG, CBD and others.

Yes, it still won’t make you high.

These prescriptions are also fully legal in NZ as long as they do not exceed the 98% definition mentioned above.

5 Which is Better? Full Spectrum CBD Oil vs CBD Isolate

The general consensus is that the full spectrum CBD is better. The idea is that the combination of compounds work in combination better than the individual molecules. This is called the entourage effect, which was coined in 1999.

Full spectrum prescriptions are ideal but difficult to fill in at the pharmacy. The reason is a legal one! It again comes down to the legal definition which I mentioned above and finding products that meet that definition.

6 How Do I get A Prescription For CBD Oil?

If your GP is open to prescribing CBD oil, you are in luck. Talk to them about it and see how you get on. However, unfortunately for many people, they find that their GP does not know much about it or simply does not believe in it so declines to prescribe it.

There are many things you can do to help prepare you for this consultation and make it a simpler process! I suggest you read this article here about it. To summarise however, the following points are helpful for that consultation:

  • Email your doctor before discussing openly with them about it – this will allow them to do some basic research and not be put on the spot

  • Book a double consultation to take the time pressure off your doctor so he/she can consider it carefully

  • Provide them written material on CBD which they can use. I suggest our Cannabis Clinic Guide or the Bpac handout

If you are facing difficulty with this or need support, consider seeing one of our specialist cannabis doctors.

7 How Much CBD Oil Should I Use? What Dose Is Right?

The good news here is that CBD is really well tolerated! This means that unlike conventional medication, where there is not much room to increase dosages, CBD can be taken from as low as 5-10mg per day while some people are known to take several hundred mg’s!

This is because the side effects are limited.

Usually I recommend patients start on a low dose CBD oil and slowly increase it with them, as long as they do not have any other medical conditions that would affect this.

A usual starting point of 25mg is a really good guide! That way, you have a lot of room to increase it if needed.

8 Are There Any Medications Which Interact With CBD?

Using CBD safely is very important. And yes there are medications which CBD oil can interact with.

This includes:

  • Clobazam

  • Sodium valproate

  • Carbamazepine

  • Warfarin

  • Diazepam

  • Fluoxetine

  • Phenytoin

  • Warfarin

  • St John’s Wart

For people who use the above medications, consulting with a doctor beforehand is recommended. There are also other medications which CBD may interact with, especially ones that are broken down by your liver.

If you need assistance with the safe use of medicinal cannabis and CBD oil, consider speaking to your GP or consulting with us.

9 Is CBD Oil Safe And Suitable For Everyone?

While CBD is generally considered very safe and well tolerated, it is important that you do it carefully.

The main area people run into problem which I see is in those with liver impairment. If you have any liver problems or your doctor has told you that your liver tests (LFT’s) are abnormal, it is important this is checked up while you are on CBD oil.

At higher doses, CBD may make those liver enzymes worse. So it pays to be cautious.

In those with significant liver issues, very close monitoring and using low doses is required.

10 What Are The Side Effects Of CBD Oil?

Not many, but you do need to be careful if you are on medications which affect your liver or you have any liver conditions. Make sure you discuss this with your doctor. See questions 8 and 9 above.

The main medications this covers are anti-seizure medications. If you are on these, you need to ensure your doctor is aware of the interaction.

If you do have any liver problems or impairment, again make sure your doctor is aware as while you are using CBD, your liver needs to be checked on a regular basis.

If you need any specific advice, please contact us for a consultation.

11 Will A Drug Test Pick Up CBD Oil?

If your occupation involves drug testing, I recommend you ask for a prescription of CBD isolate and not full spectrum. This means that you will only use CBD and no other cannabinoids which may light up positive on a drug test.

The full spectrum CBD, while containing many beneficial cannabinoids, has the potential to be picked up by drug testing. I am not aware that this is proven or certain but the risk exists theoretically.

Having said that, the content of the other cannabinoids are very low. So it is likely that even full spectrum CBD oil will not get picked up by drug testing.

Staying with CBD isolate products is the safest way to go.

12 Is CBD Oil Safe For Children?

Yes it is. As a matter of fact, it is an FDA approved drug for the treatment of specific forms of epilepsy.

13 Is THC Legal In NZ? Can I Be Prescribed THC In NZ?

Yes you can, from the 1st of April 2020! You will be able to have balanced CBD – THC and THC dominant prescriptions.

This opens up many opportunities to help people.

14 Will THC Products Make Me High?

THC in the cannabis plant is responsible for making people feel high. However, recreational cannabis strains are grown particularly for their very high THC and low CBD content.

Medicinal cannabis on the other hand is different in that it contains much more specific and balanced levels of THC and CBD and therefore does not make you high.

As a matter of fact, the THC and the CBD both work together and enhance the potential benefit.


I hope you have found this guide to be helpful. I have tried to answer the most common questions we get asked about CBD oil.

CBD oil is a great natural alternative when conventional medicine is not helping or the side effects are not tolerable.

With a thorough understanding of CBD oil, what it is, how much to take, the side effects and choices, you are now empowered to take control of your health.

What has been your experience of using CBD oil? We would love to hear it!