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.

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