A lack of education among New Zealand prescribers remains one of the biggest barriers to entry for Kiwis interested in medicinal cannabis, delegates at this week’s Independent Pharmacy First Conference will be told.

Writing on Voxy.co.nz, Eqalis chief medical officer Elizabeth Plant said many medical professionals are still reluctant to prescribe medicinal cannabis because they don’t have enough information about it.

Eqalis chief medical officer Elizabeth Plant

She added: “One in six New Zealanders (approximately 850,000) suffers from chronic pain; many of which can be significantly helped with cannabis medicines. Pharmacists are focused on the effectiveness, safety and appropriateness of any medicines prescribed to the New Zealand public, and rightfully so.

“However, there’s a remaining stigma around cannabis that needs to be addressed. There have been no recorded deaths or negative outcomes for Kiwis using properly prescribed medicinal cannabis products.

“We need to work with pharmacists, GPs and prescribers to help them understand the therapeutic benefits of cannabis medicines for New Zealand patients. This includes how dosages of medicinal cannabis are safely calculated and any contra-indications or drug interactions for them to be aware of.”

Eqalis pharmaceutical director Mitch Cuevas agreed education is key to removing barriers to entry for Kiwi patients.

He said: “We are focused on educating and informing New Zealanders and prescribers about the therapeutic benefits of medicinal cannabis as a safe and natural alternative. We are also laser focused on increasing access and affordability to patients.”

“Giving people accurate information so they can make educated decisions is essential to providing Kiwis with safe, effective and affordable cannabis medicine.”