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ACCESSING MEDICINAL CANNABIS IN
NEW ZEALAND

Locally-produced medicinal cannabis products have been available in New Zealand since 2021.

 

New Zealand's Medicinal Cannabis Scheme came into effect in 2020, and aims to improve access to quality medicinal cannabis products for patients.

The quality standards for medicinal cannabis are set by the Medicinal Cannabis Agency. All suppliers of medicinal product in New Zealand must comply with these standards. 

They help ensure doctors, pharmacists and patients can be confident that the medicines they receive deliver an accurate dose of cannabinoids, as stated on the pack.
 
More information for patients and healthcare professionals can be found on the Ministry of Health website.

 

Cannabis medicines are available in New Zealand through a prescription from your doctor.

 

Your doctor will have knowledge of your medical history, including any other medicines you are taking, and is best placed to advise you on the risks and benefits of using medicinal cannabis products.

 

Once you have a prescription, the doctor or a pharmacy will dispense the product to you.

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TIPS FOR TALKING TO YOUR DOCTOR

All doctors in New Zealand are now authorised to prescribe medicinal cannabis products, for any condition.
Prepare for a discussion

Your doctor may want to discuss the reason(s) you are seeking medicinal cannabis. Before you book an appointment, we recommend you do as much research as you can on medicinal cannabis as a treatment for your particular condition.

 

If you can find evidence that medicinal cannabis has helped other people with your condition, bring a copy of the study or article with you. A scholarly journal or academic study will be your best source, but less formal sources like patient testimonials or blog posts can also be helpful.

 

Clearly identify the symptoms that you feel can be better managed with medical cannabis. Make a list of the medicines and therapies you have already tried and mark which have, and which have not, worked. Medicinal cannabis is often prescribed when conventional medicines are not working satisfactorily.

 

Here are some questions that you can ask your doctor during your visit:

 

  • Given my condition, could medicinal cannabis be a valid treatment for me?

  • Is medicinal cannabis safe for me to use?

  • Will taking medicinal cannabis interact with my other medications?

  • What are the side effects?

 

Cannabis-based medicines present a unique opportunity for use as therapeutic alternatives to many conventional pharmaceutical medicines.

What to do if your doctor is not comfortable prescribing medical cannabis

 

Medicinal cannabis is still a relatively new field for many doctors in New Zealand, some doctors may not feel comfortable prescribing.  It may help to ask if he or she would be willing to refer you to another doctor, or seek a second opinion.

 

You can find a list of health providers in your area here:

https://www.healthpoint.co.nz/specialised-primary-health-care/?serviceArea=im:67cc55d5-e8f3-463d-aa25-3127855203df

 

There are also several specialist cannabis access clinics operating in New Zealand.

These private clinics are staffed by healthcare professionals who have been trained in medicinal cannabis treatments. You can have a consultation in person or with tele-health (video call). At their discretion, they can provide you with a prescription and access to a range of suitable cannabis medicines that meet high quality standards.

 

Here are some providers who offer services across New Zealand​

 

The Medicinal Cannabis Agency also provides some consumer information about accessing cannabis products, here. 

Talking to your doctor

UNDERSTANDING CANNABINOID EXTRACTS

Many patients prefer an alternative to the conventional method of smoking cannabis products. There are several options available, including the use of medicinal cannabinoid extracts. You can use cannabis as an oral medicine, sublingually (under the tongue), topically, and you can even inhale it without smoking, through a vapouriser.

 

Medicinal cannabis extracts start out as cannabis oil and are formulated into a wide variety of delivery media, such as soft gel caplets, sublingual drops and topical creams. Using cannabis oil extracts can yield different medical benefits to conventionally smoking raw flowers.
 
Research shows that cannabis-based medicines may be effective in treating chronic pain, epilepsy, sleep disorders, gastrointestinal disorders and may even help reduce the size or stop the growth of cancer, as well as stop the progression of Alzheimer’s disease.
 
Both extracts and raw cannabis may be used to treat symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), headaches and migraines. They may also be used to combat the symptoms of multiple sclerosis and premenstrual syndrome. 
 
Typically, extract oil contains concentrated cannabinoid profiles for more potency. Most extracts are cannabidiol (CBD) dominant, meaning they have little or no psychoactive effect on the patient.

 

Helius Assist
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