The flag of New Zealand flapping in the wind.

Christoph Strässler

New Zealand Approves Plan to Allow CBD Prescriptions

Ministry of Health officials in New Zealand have announced that CBD products will no longer require individual approval from the agency for use, allowing it to be prescribed by physicians much like any other prescription drug, according to a Stuff report. Associate Health Minister Peter Dunne indicated the changes would take effect in about two months.

“Cabinet has now accepted my recommendation to make this change,” he said in the report. “Therefore, I am now taking steps to remove restrictions accordingly.”

During the announcement, Dunne noted that the move is unlikely going to lead to a deluge of patients getting CBD prescriptions right away as the CBD supplies are hampered by import and quality control issues.

Ross Bell, executive director of the Drug Foundation, called the move a “very good decision” but said that skeptical doctors, the lack of supplies, and the cost of the products would remain an issue as the products wouldn’t be subsidized by the Pharmaceutical Management Agency, or Pharmac, which decides which medicines are subsidized for use in public and community hospitals.

“For doctors to prescribe them they’re still going to need to source the product from overseas and have that imported into the country,” Bell said. “There remains skepticism within the medical profession around cannabis-based medicine, so a patient is still going to have to convince a doctor to do a prescription … they may not be willing to write that prescription.”

New Zealand has recently made it easier for patients to procure medical cannabis by allowing the Ministry of Health to sign off on applications instead of the Minister of Health personally. At least one company, Canada’s Tilray, has been given government approval to import cannabis oils that contain both CBD and THC to New Zealand.

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