The New Zealand Government has delayed its new medicinal cannabis framework for a second time citing COVID-19 and a lack of suitable approved products.
The regulations included transitional arrangements to give manufacturers and importers until October 1, 2020 to collate the information required for product assessments and to ensure patients currently accessing those products could continue doing so.
The transitional period was then extended to March 31, 2021 amid fears firms would not be able to meet the deadline. The new framework will now come into effect on September 30, 2021.
Last week, Tilray became the first company to have products verified as meeting the minimum quality standards under the new system.
In a statement, Health Minister Andrew Little said transitional medicinal cannabis regulations will be extended by six months as a result of COVID-19 to ensure certainty of supply.
“The Government is committed to making the system work and continuing access to prescribed medicinal cannabis products for patients who need them.
“Two products from one company have been verified under the new regulations. However, the Government wants to see multiple suppliers for price competitiveness.
“COVID-19 restrictions have limited the abilities of companies to apply under the regulations, have affected global supply chains and also added challenges to suppliers seeking to have products assessed.
“I am mindful of the risk that wholesalers could suspend imports in advance of the April 1 deadline and this would prevent patients from accessing prescribed medicines.
“By extending the deadline, patients will be still able to access products, while suppliers have the additional time they need to apply to the Medicinal Cannabis Agency for verification.
“The Government remains committed to bringing in the new regulation standards because patients and doctors deserve to know that medicinal cannabis products contain what the ingredient list says, are free from contaminants and are safe to consume.”
The Misuse of Drugs (Medicinal Cannabis) Regulations 2019 came into effect on April 1, 2020. The regulations set a minimum quality standard for medicinal cannabis ingredients and products, and introduced a licensing regime to enable the establishment of a domestic industry to cultivate, manufacture and supply medicinal cannabis.