U-turn on medicinal cannabis
The Government has removed restrictions on medicinal cannabis meaning Kiwis will now be able to get it from their doctor.
Associate Health minister Peter Dunne on Friday announced the Ministry of Health would no longer need to approve the use cannabis product cannabidiol (CBD) for individual cases.
Dunne said CBD was a substance found in cannabis that had potential therapeutic value but had little or no psychoactive properties.
Rose Renton’s son Alex brought the issue into the headlines in 2015, when he died after falling into a ’’status epilepticus’’, a type of prolonged seizure.
After a long battle her son was given a medicinal based cannabis which improved his condition, but was not enough to save his life.
Renton said if her son has been given CBD as a first line treatment, rather than a ‘last line’ treatment, he might still be alive today.
Any new regulation and removing of restrictions on medicinal cannabis was a huge bonus, but CBD was ‘‘only half the plant’’, and Renton planned to keep campaigning until full regulated medicinal cannabis was available across the board.
At present using CBD products for therapeutic use is an offence under the Misuse of Drugs Act unless approval is given by the Ministry of Health.
Dunne said he had taken advice from advisors that CBD should not be a controlled drug.
‘‘Cabinet has now accepted my recommendation to make this change, he said.
‘‘Therefore, I am now taking steps to remove restrictions accordingly.
‘‘In practical terms, the changes mean CBD would be able to be prescribed by a doctor to their patient and supplied in a manner similar to any other prescription medicine.’’
Australia had already taken a similar step and other countries were responding to emerging evidence that CBD had a low risk of harm when used therapeutically, Dunne said.
The change was unlikely to lead to a deluge of people taking up medicinal cannabis as the supply of CBD was hampered by quality control and import issues, Dunne said.