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Cannabis oil controlled drug rules lifted

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 1/06/2017 Karen Sweeney

Cannabis oil will be available from GPs the same as any other prescription drugs after the government moved to lift restrictions.

Cannabidoil, or CBD, has been a controlled substance under drug guidelines, meaning until now it has required prescriptions to be approved by Associate Health Minister Peter Dunne

He announced on Friday that Cabinet had approved his recommendation that restrictions be lifted based on advice from the Expert Advisory Committee on Drugs.

Cannabidoil has little or no psychoactive effect but has been found to have therapeutic value.

"In practical terms, the change means CBD would be able to be prescribed by a doctor to their patient and supplied in a manner similar to any other prescription medicine," Mr Dunne said.

At present Sativex, a mouth spray used to treat Multiple Sclerosis, is the only pharmaceutical-grade cannabidoil product approved by MedSafe for distribution in New Zealand.

Patients will be able to receive a three-month supply after the changes, rather than the previous one month maximum.

Pharmacies, prescribers and wholesalers will also no longer need an import license or have to follow strict record keeping.

Green Party health spokeswoman Julie Anne Genter said it was a first step towards making medicinal cannabis legal, affordable and accessible.

"She has a member's bill in the ballot that would allow both cannabis and cannabis products to become legal for people suffering a terminal illness or other debilitating condition, under the supervision of a doctor.

"Why should people have to pay thousands of dollars a month for imported medicinal cannabis products when the plant is very cheap to grow here," she said.

New Zealanders currently have access to a limited range of cannabidoil products made to the standard the country requires.

Mr Dunne said that would continue to impact the supply locally.

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