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MCANZ Press Release: Medical Cannabis Scheme a "Blazing wreck"

It is now over 1300 days since the Labour government was formed, and could act on their campaign promise to "legalize within 100 days"

To date, no new products are available under the "new scheme" merely existing products uprated to "approved".

The new scheme insists on a pharmaceutical (GMP) quality standard for Cannabis that to date, only Tilray has been able to meet, and NO New Zealand company has been licensed for (GMP) yet, despite tens of millions of dollars of investment, perhaps hundreds of millions across the sector.

In 2018, MCANZ advocated strongly for lower "Near Pharmaceutical" standard as used in Canada (GPP). Feedback from Industry experts in Canada is that facility setup, licensing, time to market and cost per gram would all be lower than what the government ultimately settled upon.

During this time affordability has not been addressed, with the schemes settings ensuring products will be late and expensive. To Labour's credit, affordability was a genuine concern as revealed in OIAs released to The Hemp Foundation, however, MOH attempted to bury these facts in redactions that were successfully repealed with complaints to the ombudsman.

"At the end of the extension, the prices of most CBD products will have to go up"

"Even with robust testing, food-grade products are cheap to produce, in fact, prices have gotten even cheaper this year under the 'old scheme'. It's the cost of GMP compliance under the 'new scheme' that will see more products pulled from the market, or prices moved upwards to close the price gap with 'quality approved' CBD products from Tilray" Says MCANZ Coordinator Shane Le Brun.

While the schemes technical details are being ironed out, police prosecutions for medicinal use and supply are haphazard, courts are granting more leniency, while a repeat of the Switch on Gardener raids historical Operation Lime, has seen police target customers of a hydroponics store, getting warrants for power companies records, and even attempting to forfeit the home of a gr green fairy.

Against this backdrop, MCANZ has been concerned since the start of the Labour Govt in 2017, that there hasn't been the attention to detail applied by the Minister, due to the large Health portfolio. This is best demonstrated by the actual Medical Cannabis Legislation, which demonstrated no knowledge or vision by Labour.  The current minister Andrew Little, coined 'Doctor do little' by some in the patient community, is now having to front up for failings that aren't entirely of his making.

"The current review of the palliation clause needs to be followed by a review of the entire scheme through the lens of equitable access, to ensure sickness beneficiaries, actually have an opportunity to try Medical Cannabis that is affordable"

"Taking into account the massive workload the Minster of Health has with the entire medicines act due for a rewrite, the scrapping of DHBs, and the level of attention required for drug policy, I would urge the Government to reconsider delegating the Misuse of Drugs Act as a separate associate health portfolio, much as it was when Peter Dunne had responsibility before Labour took power."

"And on a final note, while it isn't a 'sexy' expense line, the Ministry clearly needs more policy wonks, as the scope of policy work, review and the like at the  MOH in general could clearly be improved by the addition of a handful of extra experienced and qualified staff in the policy teams. This has been my observation since the foundation of MCANZ, that the MOH needs more manpower" says Shane.

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