Medical cannabis regulations require urgency

New Zealand’s first licensed medicinal cannabis company says a Government plan for regulations to be set by mid-2020 could backfire politically.

“With a referendum on decriminalisation that year, if the medicinal scheme is not already in place, the public vote will be on compassionate grounds” said Hikurangi Cannabis Company chief executive Manu Caddie.

Health minister David Clark currently accepts a mid-2020 timeframe proposed by Ministry of Health officials while National MP Shane Reti is pushing for the regulations to be contained in amended bipartisan legislation and passed in the next few months.

“Green Party MP Chloe Swarbrick has proposed regulations be completed within six months of the law passing and we think this is a reasonable timeframe if the Minister commits new funding required – by what he acknowledges is an under-resourced Ministry of Health – to make it happen.”

Caddie says including the regulations in the legislation would not be a wise move because they will be only some of the rules required.

“The regulations need to be more detailed than what was provided for in National’s alternative bill and should include standards around security, cultivation, processing, manufacturing, distribution, advertising, labelling and quality testing.”

“Rushing the process will not allow the public, medical professionals and industry enough time to ensure the regulations are workable both from regulatory, medical and commercial perspectives. On the other hand, delaying the process until 2020 is too long for patients and risks confusing the referendum vote.”

“We need the current Government bill passed before Christmas with a change that requires regulations set within six months along with input from an advisory group of experts to ensure it is a publicly accountable process and a workable set of regulations.”

Caddie said it was taking so long to progress that some people who made submissions on the bill would no longer be around to see the legislation in place, let alone access the drug.

“That’s a real tragedy and that’s why we need that urgent action.”


Contact: Manu Caddie: 027 420 2957

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