Guide to the proposed medicinal cannabis scheme
Consultation has begun on the Ministry of Health’s medicinal cannabis scheme. Regulations must be in place by 18 December 2019, with local production expected to begin next year. This guide is intended to help you have effective input so we can have a sustainable local industry that can provide safe and affordable products to better meet patient needs.
Some parts of the scheme have taken effect: any doctor can now prescribe cannabidiol products; and palliative care patients are legally allowed to obtain, use and possess illicit cannabis and utensils. The Ministry of Health is now taking feedback on their proposals for the parts that still need to be implemented. These are mostly about the prescription process, product quality standards, enabling local production and licensing.
The objectives of the scheme are to improve patient access to quality, affordable medicinal cannabis products; provide medical practitioners with confidence about the range of quality medicinal cannabis products available; and support equitable health outcomes and equity of access to the economic benefits of a medicinal cannabis industry.
The proposals are comprehensive and cover many aspects in detail. Some of the highlights are:
· The proposed product standards allow a wide variety of cannabis products, including inhalable products for vaping (but not smoking)
· It is proposed to allow local cultivation and manufacture to both pharma (GMP) and near-pharma (GPP) standards
· GPs would be able to prescribe approved medicinal cannabis products without needing specialist recommendation or Ministry of Health approval. Only GMP products could become approved products, by following the existing process of clinical trials.
· A recommendation from a specialist would still be required for unapproved products. This would include all local products made to GPP standard, and those made to GMP standard awaiting approval.
· Edibles and infusions will not be allowed
· Supplements and natural health products would require a prescription
· The proposed licencing fees and process may affect equitable outcomes
The consultation document is broken down into eight sections and five appendices.
The questions are helpfully addressed to specific audiences (such as consumers, health practitioners, industry or Maori industry) and you can answer only those that are important to you.
Submissions close 5pm, Wednesday 7 August 2019
Extracts from the consultation document: