Under New Zealand’s medical cannabis program, businesses will be banned from marketing cannabis edibles, eliminating the opportunity for companies to capitalize on the market, as some businesses believed doctors would be able to prescribe edibles.
New Zealand’s medical cannabis scheme allows for the prescription of products that are intended for administration by inhalation. Under the medical cannabis regulations, medical cannabis products are not allowed to be sold in a form intended for smoking.
“From Helius’ perspective, we’re not too concerned about the omission of edibles. Whilst edibles are a popular format elsewhere, our regulations in New Zealand require a doctor to prescribe each specific product to a patient,” said Paul Manning, co-CEO of New Zealand cannabis producer Helius Therapeutics. “The likelihood of a doctor prescribing a gummy bear or a cookie to their patient would have been slim, even if they were allowed. So, we weren’t planning to manufacture products of that type anyway.
New Zealand recently competed the regulatory framework for its medical cannabis industry that is expected to go into effect in April. When the new law goes into effect, all general practitioners will be able to prescribe cannabis without oversight from a specialist. New Zealand is also leaving the legalization of recreational cannabis up to voters, who will vote on the legalization of cannabis as part of a double referendum.
New Zealand also plans to reverse a law that prohibits cannabis vaporizers, with the plan for the reversal to happen before the new regulations regarding the country’s medical cannabis program take effect. The market will have to rely on imports for a while as the medical device approvals needed are only accessible overseas.
In New Zealand, 20 companies are licensed to grow cannabis for research purposes and another 238 companies have permits to grow industrial hemp. The first commercial licenses will be handed out mid-2020 and products from local producers could be in pharmacies by the end of the year.