The Ministry of Health (MOH) has announced it is consulting on a proposed Medicinal Cannabis Scheme.
The consultation follows on from recent changes to the Misuse of Drugs Act 1975 in late 2018 designed to facilitate medicinal access to certain cannabidiol products with low THC content (CBD Products). Previously these required ministerial approval, usually case-by-case, before they could be prescribed. It also follows concerns around access to medicinal cannabis products more generally and current reliance on, and the cost of, products imported from overseas.
The consultation proposes to address issues around:
Quality, dose form and labelling standards for medicinal cannabis products (including non-CBD Products);
prescribing requirements for practitioners, including off-label use and unapproved products, and when ministerial approval will still be required;
after market controls, such as advertising and sale;
rules around domestic cultivation, manufacture, licensing and related fees (including for unapproved products);
product importing and exporting; and
inter-relationships with certain other regulatory schemes, including industrial hemp.
Interested parties have an important opportunity to express their views before decisions are made on proposed further regulatory reforms. Regulations on quality standards must be made no later than 18 December 2019, with a view to becoming operational in the first quarter of 2020.
The Medicinal Cannabis Scheme consultation paper is freely available on the MOH website. Consultation closes at 5pm on Wednesday 7 August 2019.
Recreational cannabis use and cultivation is not addressed through the above consultation process. However, the Government recently announced that questions on the legal status of recreational cannabis, and the form of any related legislation, will form part of a referendum at the 2020 general election.
If you would like assistance with making submissions on the medicinal scheme or the recreational cabinet paper, please contact the authors or your usual Bell Gully advisor.