Bill proposes medicinal cannabis cards for Kiwi patients

An updated Member's bill, to be put forward by Deputy Leader of the Opposition, Dr Shane Reti, proposes the introduction of a Medicinal Cannabis Card for all eligible patients assessed by healthcare professionals.



Introduced by Dr Shane Reti, this Member’s bill amends the Misuse of Drugs Act 1975 by providing a medicinal cannabis scheme that will license high quality domestic medicinal cannabis production, regulate health practitioner controlled gateway access, and facilitate pharmacist dispensing.


The Misuse of Drugs (Medicinal Cannabis) Amendment Bill (No 2) is the follow-up to Dr Reti's first medical cannabis bill, presented in 2019. It expected to have its first reading once parliament resumes on Tuesday 9 March 2021.


This Bill seeks to further amend the Misuse of Drugs Act 1975. It provides a reshaped Medicinal Cannabis Scheme (the scheme) that will:

  • license high quality domestic medicinal cannabis production; and

  • regulate health practitioner controlled gateway access; and

  • facilitate pharmacist dispensing.

This Bill responds to international medicinal cannabis trends by describing a medicinal cannabis scheme for New Zealand that safely and cautiously navigates these waters. This Bill incorporates international observations into a scheme that considers cannabis as a medicine – just like any other medicine, with prescribing clinicians such as doctors and nurse practitioners as the gateway to access.


Dr Shane Reti, Deputy Leader of the Opposition

Dr Reti says health professionals are best placed to recommend and advise on eligibility, which will be confirmed with a photo ID Medicinal Cannabis Card.


The bill suggest a Medicinal Cannabis Card must be include:

  • a photographic image of the medicinal cannabis card holder; and

  • the medicinal cannabis card holder’s name; and

  • the medicinal cannabis card holder’s date of birth; and

  • the medicinal cannabis card holder’s residential address; and

  • unique identifiers to distinguish the medicinal cannabis card and the holder from other medicinal cannabis cards and holders; and

  • the original date of issue of the medicinal cannabis card; and

  • the date on which the medicinal cannabis card expires; and

  • any terms, conditions, or restrictions on the medicinal cannabis card holder; and

  • any other information that may be prescribed by regulations.


The bill also suggest the introduction of a 'Carer Card' to be issued to caregivers of patients eligible to use medicinal cannabis products.


A Medicinal Cannabis Card is valid for a maximum of 12 months from the date of issue, while a Carer Card is valid for the duration the relevant medicinal cannabis card is valid.


Under this proposed bill, dispensing will still occur at pharmacies after producing the Medicinal Cannabis Card and following a consultation with the pharmacist. Before supplying, administering, or prescribing a medicinal cannabis product, a medical practitioner, nurse practitioner, or pharmacist must be satisfied that the medicinal cannabis product is for the Medicinal Cannabis Card holder’s therapeutic benefit.


Affordability and availability will be improved, utilising existing MedSafe fast track consenting, and regulating pharmacy dispensing.


A full copy of the Misuse of Drugs (Medicinal Cannabis) Amendment Bill (No 2) can be found here.



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