The medical cannabis industry in New Zealand has been rapidly developing since the country's government announced its intention to legalize medical cannabis in December 2018. This announcement was followed by the passing of the Misuse of Drugs (Medicinal Cannabis) Amendment Act 2019, which created a legal framework for the production, supply, and use of medicinal cannabis in New Zealand.
Under the Misuse of Drugs (Medicinal Cannabis) Amendment Act 2019, medicinal cannabis is defined as cannabis that is grown, processed, and distributed for therapeutic purposes. This includes both CBD (cannabidiol) and THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) products, although the use of THC products is tightly regulated.
The legislation created a new licensing regime for the cultivation, manufacture, and supply of medicinal cannabis products in New Zealand. It also provides for the establishment of a Medicinal Cannabis Agency, which is responsible for overseeing the regulation of the industry.
To apply for a license under the new regime, prospective license holders must meet strict criteria related to security, quality control, and supply chain management. They must also demonstrate a commitment to good manufacturing practices, and have processes in place to ensure that their products are safe and effective.
Licenses are available for a range of activities, including the cultivation of cannabis, the manufacture of cannabis products, and the supply of cannabis products to patients. The licensing process is overseen by the Medicinal Cannabis Agency, which is responsible for ensuring that all license holders comply with the requirements of the legislation.
One of the key features of the new legislation is that it allows for the use of medicinal cannabis products by patients with a range of medical conditions. These include chronic pain, multiple sclerosis, epilepsy, and cancer, among others. Patients must obtain a prescription from a doctor or specialist, who must be satisfied that the use of medicinal cannabis is appropriate for the patient's condition.
To date, the implementation of the new regulatory regime has been slow, and there are still relatively few licensed producers of medicinal cannabis in New Zealand. However, the industry is expected to grow rapidly in the coming years, as more producers enter the market and more patients begin to use medicinal cannabis products.
In addition to the regulatory framework for the production and supply of medicinal cannabis products, there are also regulations in place that govern the use of cannabis for recreational purposes. Under the Misuse of Drugs Act 1975, cannabis is classified as a Class C drug, and the possession, use, sale, and cultivation of cannabis is illegal, except in limited circumstances.
However, in December 2020, the government announced its intention to hold a referendum on the legalization of cannabis for recreational use. The referendum was held in conjunction with the 2020 general election, and resulted in the majority of voters opposing the legalization of cannabis for recreational use.
Despite the result of the referendum, there is still significant support for the legalization of cannabis for recreational use in New Zealand. This has led to calls for the government to reconsider its position on the issue, and to explore alternative approaches to the regulation of cannabis use.
Overall, the medical cannabis industry in New Zealand is in the early stages of development, but is expected to grow rapidly in the coming years. The regulatory framework for the production and supply of medicinal cannabis products is in place, and there is growing support for the legalization of cannabis for recreational use. However, the implementation of the new regulatory regime has been slow, and there are still significant barriers to entry for new producers in the market.