New Zealand is facing a slump in its legal medicinal cannabis supply after March 31, when a deadline to meet new government rules expires.

The government introduced a new regulatory system in April 2020 in a bid to create safer, more widespread and affordable access to medicinal cannabis, but it has yet to approve any product.

Three of the country’s main importers, Medleaf Therapeutics, Nubu Pharmaceuticals and Eqalis Pharmaceuticals, told the NZ Herald their products are unlikely to be approved under the new standards before the March deadline.

Special provisions which have allowed companies to import under an old, stop-gap system will expire at the end of March. Meanwhile, domestic product is not expected to reach the market until later this year.

Medleaf said it was preparing to take a break from the market for several months while Eqalis said it may abandon importing efforts altogether.

However, Canadian company Tilray said it expects to have products approved in time.

A Ministry of Health spokesperson confirmed no products have been approved under the new system, but said they expected “a number of products” to be verified by the April 1 deadline. The original deadline of October 1, 2020 was extended for six months when it became clear no company would meet the new rules.