The change in the approval process means the Associate Health Minister Peter Dunne will no longer sign off on each individual request for pharmaceutical grade medicinal cannabis products.
“When applications first began to be received it was my view that the final decision appropriately lay at ministerial level, rather than exposing officials to risk, given the complicated and contentious nature of the issue – that is to say the buck stopped with me”, wrote Mr Dunne in a statement.
The move comes a couple of months after Mr. Dunne removed the requirement for Ministry of Health approval to prescribe Sativex as treatment for multiple sclerosis for New Zealand patients.
As Stuff.co.nz reports, Dunne has hinted more changes could be on the way to further loosen prescribing rules for specialists wanting to prescribe Sativex for conditions other than multiple sclerosis.
Kiwi cannabis activists are pleased with the decision, but say it doesn’t go far enough.
Abe Gray is President of New Zealand’s political Cannabis Party, Vice President of NORML New Zealand, and the host of ‘Overgrown‘ on Radio One. Gray says he would like to see the Cannabis Party have a seat at the table and have a progressive, modern day conversation about cannabis reform.
“Any movement is a step in the right direction, so it’s good to finally see some of our major political parties acknowledge that medicinal cannabis is useful,” Gray continued, “Unfortunately they’re overly fixated on pharmaceutical cannabis preparations and totally prejudiced against raw natural cannabis flower as a medicine.”
Gray has also successfully established New Zealand’s first cannabis museum, The Whakamana Cannabis Museum. The museum doubles as an Airbnb for visitors to learn more about the Kiwi cannabis culture and the country’s ongoing war on drugs.