We've updated our Privacy Policy to make it clearer how we use your personal data.

We use cookies to provide you with a better experience, read our Cookie Policy

Analytical Cannabis Logo
Home > Articles > Policy > Content Piece

New Zealand Launches its Medical Cannabis Program

By Leo Bear-McGuinness

Published: Apr 03, 2020   
Listen with
Register for FREE to listen to this article
Thank you. Listen to this article using the player above.

New Zealand’s medical cannabis scheme is officially open for patient access, less than four months after the government finalized its regulatory foundation in December.

Despite concerns of a delay due to the coronavirus pandemic, the scheme was launched as planned on April 1 by the government’s Ministry of Health.  

Medicated down under

Unlike medical cannabis schemes in other countries, such as the UK, the New Zealand system gives all general practitioners the authority to prescribe medical cannabis products without any oversight from a specialist.

Patients will be able to access pharmaceutical cannabinoid medicines and dried products that can be vaporized; smokable and edible forms are still prohibited.

All products must meet good manufacturing practice standards (extensive documentation, safety testing, etc.), as set out by the country’s Medicinal Cannabis Agency.

While the New Zealand scheme allows for the domestic cultivation and distribution of medical cannabis, the first licences aren’t expected to be issued until midway through 2020. Products from local producers may hit the pharmacy shelves by the end of the year. Until then, the country will likely rely on imports to meet demand.

Under the rules set out by the Ministry of Health,a medicinal cannabis license for New Zealand companies authorize a holder to carry out one or more of the following activities:

  • Supply
  • Nursery propagation
  • Research
  • Possession for manufacture
  • Cultivation

Although any cultivation facility is limited to 50 seeds and 20 plants. Cultivation applications also cost around 12,550 New Zealand dollars ($8,200) with an additional NZ$300 fee. If the application is to supply of a new product, a further NZ$13,400 in fees applies.

Compounded with the costs of setting up a cultivation facility, some New Zealanders, including Māori groups, have found the fees too high a barrier to transition into the legal sector. But, speaking to RNZ last month, Ministry of Health Māori service improvement manager Eugene Rewi said these fees were as small as they could be.

“There's no fat involved in the fees, it's actually about a fee for service because there is auditing requirements… administration that need to be adhered to.”

“Is this a hinderance for some - I think definitely - so maybe whānau need to look at other avenues, whether they join up as a group, or if their strength is in one particular area then maybe they concentrate on that.”

Leo Bear-McGuinness

Science Writer & Editor

Leo joined Analytical Cannabis in 2019. From research to regulations and analysis to agriculture, his writing covers all the need-to-know news for the cannabis industry. He holds a Bachelor's in Biology from Newcastle University and a Master's in Science Communication from the University of Edinburgh.


Like what you just read? You can find similar content on the topic tags shown below.

Cultivation Policy

Stay connected with the latest news in cannabis extraction, science and testing

Get the latest news with the FREE weekly Analytical Cannabis newsletter