When voting age New Zealanders were asked in July 2017 if they supported “Growing and/or using cannabis for medical reasons if you have a terminal illness”, 60% responded that it should be legal, 22% supported decriminalisation, while 15% responded it should be illegal.
The Medicinal Cannabis Amendment Bill, that was approved in December 2018, proposed to amend the Misuse of Drugs Act 1975 to improve access to medicinal cannabis for New Zealanders who are suffering from terminal illness. The bill allows companies to manufacture medical cannabis products for domestic and international markets and also removes cannabidiol as a controlled drug, instead making it a prescription medicine.
Regulations to enable a Medicinal Cannabis Scheme were passed on the 18 December 2019 and came into effect on April 1, 2020. Health Minister Dr. David Clark said that could open the door to medical cannabis use for approximately 25,000 New Zealanders. A certificate from a medical practitioner or nurse practitioner is required.
New Zealand has the ninth-highest cannabis consumption level in the world with. In the population of about 4.8 million, 11% of those aged 16–64 use cannabis.
The regulations state that medical cannabis products are not allowed to be sold in edible forms or in a form intended for smoking. Medical cannabis products are required to be tested by by a Good Manufacturing Practice-certified manufacturer or laboratory.
According to newly released research by Wellington-based Business and Economic Research, New Zealand’s cannabis market value is projected at more than $1.5 billion based on the estimated 74,000 kilograms of cannabis consumed annually in the illicit market, and about 67% of total consumption – about 50,000 kilograms – would be sold through licensed retail stores.