Medical cannabis in New Zealand & around the world
Find out more about the ever-changing cannabis industry


Cannabidiol (CBD) is a phytocannabinoid discovered in 1940. It is one of 113 identified cannabinoids in cannabis plants and accounts for up to 40% of the plant’s extract.

Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), is one of at least 113 cannabinoids. Identified in cannabis. THC is the principal psychoactive constituent of cannabis.

Medical Cannabis Around the World

The global medicinal cannabis industry is developing rapidly as more countries move to allow legal access to products. Clinical Research is providing more evidence on the effectiveness of cannabinoids in treating a range of different health conditions. Many countries have now legalised medicinal cannabis or are exploring legislation changes to allow it. The medicinal use of cannabis is now legalised in a number of countries including New Zealand, and at least 33 States in the US (despite still being illegal at a federal level). A policy of limited enforcement applies in countries such as the Netherlands and Spain. 

The World Health Organization’s (WHO) Expert Committee on Drug Dependence (ECDD) is recommending cannabis to be removed from the ‘most dangerous’ category of the 1961 Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs. If the recommendations are adopted, we will likely see a further loosening of regulations around the world by national drug agencies that take their lead from the 1961 Convention. The recommendations are for THC to be put into the lowest category, Schedule I and CBD and preparations containing less than 0.2 per cent THC, to be de-scheduled completely. Pharmaceutical products containing THC will be downgraded to Schedule III of the Convention.

New Zealand and Medical Cannabis

The NZ Government has established the Medicinal Cannabis Scheme to set-up the regulatory framework to improve access to quality medicinal cannabis products, through enabling the commercial cultivation of medicinal cannabis and the manufacture of medicinal cannabis products in NZ. Once the scheme is operational and growers are producing it will also allow medical practitioners (doctors and nurses) to prescribe with confidence.

This scheme proposes to increase supply of products through licensing the cultivation of cannabis in New Zealand and the manufacture and supply of medicinal cannabis products made to minimum quality standards. For the scheme to meet these objectives, commercially sustainable, quality and affordable products should be delivered to patients. 

The scheme currently covers cannabis products originating from the cannabis plant for medicinal use only. It also sets out the key aspects and the regulatory proposals needed to establish a Medicinal Cannabis facility to cultivate.

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