Cannabis firms in New Zealand have praised the regulatory framework under the country’s new Medicinal Cannabis Scheme but acknowledged it will take some time for the industry to get on its feet.
Senior executives across the Tasman also accepted they face the same challenge as Australia in overcoming the reluctance of doctors to prescribe medicinal cannabis.
NZ’s Medicinal Cannabis Scheme came into effect on April 1 with GPs given the green light to prescribe medicinal cannabis. Companies are also able to apply for licences to cultivate, manufacture and distribute products.
As with Australia, the NZ industry will be held to demanding Good Manufacturing Practice standards.
But Paul Manning, founder and chief executive of Helius Therapeutics, said other “unique” requirements will further elevate the quality.
“The regulations have struck a good balance of being pragmatic and delivering improved access to high quality products for patients,” he said. “There are very specific requirements that will make it a little harder to import products to New Zealand and we require certain things that most other countries don’t.
“But in the long run, once operations are up and running and firing on all cylinders, we’ll be holding ourselves to what many people believe will be the highest quality standards in the world. That will put New Zealand in a great position to become an innovation hub in this part of the world.”
Manning said the industry “breathed a sigh of relief” when the regulator dropped its original plan instructing doctors to get specialist sign-off for prescriptions.