New Zealand prime minister Jacinda Ardern has said she will keep New Zealand’s medicinal cannabis framework under review, amid complaints the new system is not fit for purpose.
1News reports more than 200 consignments of medicinal cannabis were destroyed at the border last year because they failed to meet the rules, with a further 67 consignments destroyed in Q1 2021. It says resulting shortages have left some patients unable to access their medicine.
Green Party drug spokesperson Chlöe Swarbrick said it was “hugely disappointing” and urged the Government to take action. “It took us years to create this mess and it shouldn’t take us years to get out of it,” she added.
While Ardern denied the system was in trouble, she hinted the Government would change tack if necessary. “Ultimately, we want New Zealanders to access safe products to manage their medical needs. If that is not what people are experiencing, then we will keep looking at the system we have created,” she said.
The Misuse of Drugs (Medicinal Cannabis) Regulations 2019 came into effect on April 1, 2020, setting a minimum quality standard for medicinal cannabis ingredients and products, and introducing a licensing regime to enable the establishment of a domestic industry to cultivate, manufacture and supply medicinal cannabis.
Transitional arrangements were put in place to give manufacturers and importers time to collate the information required for product assessments and to ensure patients currently accessing those products could continue doing so.
That transitional period has twice been extended amid fears firms would not be able to meet the deadline. The latest extension allows medicinal cannabis products to continue to be supplied without a product assessment until September 30, 2021.
So far, only Tilray has products verified as meeting the minimum quality standards under the new system while Sativex Oral Spray has consent for distribution under the Medicines Act.