“At this time, there are still access issues surrounding medicinal cannabis, with cost being one of the greatest barriers. So, a lot of patients were hoping the referendum would pass and provide affordable access to cannabis products for wellness purposes.”
The 2020 New Zealand cannabis referendum was a non-binding referendum held on the 17th of October 2020, in the form of a vote in favour or against the “Cannabis Legalisation and Control Bill”. If the bill had passed, cannabis would have been legalized for personal use, however, while the official results are to be released today on November 6th, preliminary results released on October 30th, have suggested that 53.5% voted against and 46.5% of the voters cast a vote in favour.
Co-founder of Helius Therapeutics Paul Manning, said that the fact that the bill didn’t pass, will slow the establishment of the cannabis industry in New Zealand, which will in turn negatively affect patients counting on the plant for medicinal purposes.
“At this time, there are still access issues surrounding medicinal cannabis, with cost being one of the greatest barriers. So, a lot of patients were hoping the referendum would pass and provide affordable access to cannabis products for wellness purposes.” However, added Manning, while the referendum results make the situation seem dire, help is on the way.
To this effect, next week on the 9th and 10th of November, New Zealand’s first medicinal cannabis conference is being held at Auckland’s Aotea Centre: MedCan Summit 2020.
The situation will improve as the cannabis industry starts establishing itself
Moreover, while the current high costs on the imported products are challenging for most, the prices are expected to start settling as the local industry establishes itself. “The high cost of imported medicinal cannabis products continues to be a real challenge for patients. Fortunately, the country’s new Medicinal Cannabis Scheme was enacted in April, giving way to the formation of a local industry. Kiwi companies are now gearing up to produce more affordable New Zealand-made cannabis medicines by mid next year,” said Manning.
“Sadly, I think we’ll now see retrenchment in some corners of the industry as a result of the referendum failing. Regardless, the country’s nascent medicinal cannabis industry will continue to grow in importance – both in public health and economic terms,” he added.
The Medicinal Cannabis Scheme
The Medicinal Cannabis Scheme was launched by New Zealand’s Health Ministry earlier this year. The final regulations pertaining to the scheme were announced late last year, and since then Kiwi officials had strived to ensure that research and development licence-holders were well equipped to take the next steps. These included applying for the likes of commercial cultivation and manufacturing licences, so that local companies are able to start production.
The Scheme’s April 1st launch had taken effect rather quietly, Besides having a significant impact on the many locals who are living with conditions that may be helped by the compound, the scheme will naturally also be of great benefit to the country’s economy via exporting opportunities and the multiple industries involved, which will add to the country’s GDP.
The initiative is operating via GMP (Good Manufacturing Practice) standards which will ensure the quality and consistency of cannabinoid-based medicines. This serves to assure medical practitioners that they are prescribing safe and high quality products.