The Ministry of Health has followed through with its plan to update a rule banning certain cannabis vaporisers, as New Zealand's Medicinal Cannabis Scheme launches in April.
The move is expected to create a market for compliant vaporisers, since New Zealand's new Medicinal Cannabis Scheme prohibits cannabis products being sold in a manner intended for smoking.
This means that dry flower will be permitted as a dose form, providing a patient vaporises the plant material in an approved medical device, such as a Volcano or Mighty Medic. Extracts may also be prescribed in a dose form for vaporising, providing the product complies with New Zealand's strict quality standards.
A utensils notice, published last week on Gazette.co.nz, enables the import of vaporisers that have been approved as medical devices by an overseas regulator.
The new rule comes into effect from 1 April 2020, the same day that New Zealand's Medicinal Cannabis Scheme is enacted.
“Vaporisers that have not been approved as a medical advice by an overseas regulator will continue to be prohibited,” a spokesman for the Health Ministry told Marijuana Business Daily.
International cannabis industry news site, MJBizDaily, reported exclusively in January that New Zealand was planning to make the move.
The new Misuse of Drugs (Prohibition of Utensils) Notice 2020 replaces the Misuse of Drugs (Prohibition of Cannabis Utensils and Methamphetamine Utensils) Notice 2014, which has been revoked. The latter notice had prohibited cannabis vaporisers, even ones used for medical use.
Though medical devices such as vaporisers may be manufactured in New Zealand, they would have to be approved as medical devices to be compliant, and the government has said such approval is available only overseas.
For the time being, that means the market will rely on imports.
The Ministry of Health has previously advised that no special import permit will be required, but businesses will need to prove to the New Zealand Customs Service that devices have been approved by an overseas regulator as a medical device.
The requirement for overseas approval applies to both dry herb and oil vaporisers.
Permissible vaporisers must not be a “cannabis utensil” according to the new notice.
Such cannabis utensils are generally used for smoking the plant (which is not permitted under the Medicinal Cannabis Scheme), such as a bong, or hash pipe.
Canada is among the countries where medical cannabis vaporisers can be listed as Class II medical devices. Canada’s federal health department had issued six Class II medical device licenses for medical cannabis vaporisers as of mid-January.
Health Canada notes there are two types of certificates for the export of the devices. The first type is for licensed medical devices; the second is for devices intended for export only and therefore not licensed for sale in Canada.