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Medical cannabis changes a positive but small step

Shifting the approval of cannabis-based products from the Minister to the Ministry of Health is a step in the right direction, but doesn’t go far enough to help the many New Zealanders who want and need access to them, the Green Party said today.

Associate Health Minister Peter Dunne has today delegated decision-making for prescribing cannabis-based products to the Ministry of Health.

“Peter Dunne has removed one hoop New Zealanders have had to jump through to get access to medical cannabis, but there are still many more that need to go before people can get the medicine they need,” said Green Party health spokesperson Julie Anne Genter.

“For people who are sick or dying, the process for getting medical cannabis has been too slow and frustrating.

“Hopefully today’s decision will speed up the application process for medical cannabis, but it doesn’t address other issues of access, such as the cost of the medicines.

“With the advice and support of their doctor, New Zealanders should be able to access medical cannabis as easily and as cheaply as they do any other prescription drug – the announcement today doesn’t allow that to happen.

“We have seen a big shift in attitudes on medical cannabis, and it is well past time for the law to change so that medical cannabis is completely legal – which isn’t even close to what Peter Dunne has announced today.

“Cannabis-based medicines are constantly being developed and improved around the world, and New Zealand has to catch up with global developments.

“For that reason, I am pleased that medical professionals will be provided with a list of suitable internationally available medical cannabis products, to be compiled by the Ministry of Health,” Ms Genter said.