Medicinal cannabis scheme will be judged in patient access

Regulations governing New Zealand’s medical cannabis programme, are an improvement on the earlier draft rules, but the success of the scheme will be measured by whether patients get better access to essential medicines, says the New Zealand Drug Foundation.

The regulations allow a New Zealand-based industry that can cultivate cannabis and develop a range of medicinal products for patients with a doctor’s prescription. Quality standards and prescriber guidelines are covered by the regulations, which also allows the importation of medicines produced overseas.

Earlier draft guidelines had been widely criticised by patient, medical and industry organisations for limiting prescribing to specialists only, which would have created barriers for many patients. These restrictions have been removed, allowing GPs to prescribe approved products.

“Patients need to be at the centre of the medicinal cannabis scheme and any barriers in their way need to be removed,” said Ross Bell, NZ Drug Foundation Executive Director.

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