By LeeWEpstein

April 2, 2020


New Zealanders waiting for medical cannabis will be able to obtain it legally in a few months. The legalization of medical cannabis has been active in New Zealand since yesterday.

The new Medical Cannabis Agency linked to the Ministry of Health opened its application process for future cannabis growers and processors yesterday, even during the COVID-19 pandemic, which will nevertheless extend the time it takes to have its licenses approved.

Before this date, only Sativex, used primarily in multiple sclerosis patients, was approved by Medsafe, the New Zealand drug regulatory authority, and only for multiple sclerosis. Other products were considered “unapproved” and therefore subject to stricter review and approval on a case-by-case basis.

The new rules require that products based on medical cannabis, which can be grown in New Zealand and imported through a licensing system, comply with GMP standards. 20 companies are already allowed to grow cannabis for research and will be able to apply for a medical cultivation license.

Doctors can now prescribe cannabis products that meet the Ministry of Health’s quality standards more freely, without a visit from a specialist.

The types of products that patients can use will be limited to disable products such as oils, tablets, ointments, and creams. Edible products will not be allowed. Dried flowers will be allowed but only for spraying.

Before the legalization of medical cannabis in New Zealand, the country has also repealed a previous restriction that prohibited the use of vaporizers to consume cannabis for therapeutic purposes.

This decision will effectively allow the importation of vaporizers that have been approved as medical devices by a foreign regulator, such as Storz&Bickel’s Volcano in Canada. New Zealand also prohibits the sale of medical cannabis products in a form intended for smoking. However, New Zealand is expected to allow the sale of dried flowers for vaporization.

Vaporizers have so far been subject only to New Zealand’s drug law, which prohibits the possession of bangs or pipes. The text has been updated to allow the medical use of vaporizers.

Although medical devices such as vaporizers can be manufactured in New Zealand, they must be approved as medical devices in order to comply, which is not currently possible in the country.

Companies wishing to export vaporizers to New Zealand will need to prove to New Zealand Customs that the devices have been approved by a foreign regulatory body as medical devices.

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