Commencement of the Medicinal Cannabis Scheme

on 8 April

Kia ora,

The Medicinal Cannabis Scheme has now come into effect following the commencement of the Misuse of Drugs (Medicinal Cannabis) Regulations 2019. The purpose of the Scheme is to improve access to quality medicinal cannabis products for patients.
New Zealand Gazette notices in relation to SativexTM and medical vaporisers have also come into force.
Visit the Medicinal Cannabis Agency’s website for detailed information.

Information for industry
The Medicinal Cannabis Agency has now published the key guidance material and forms and is ready to accept medicinal cannabis licence applications. Further guidance material will be published over coming weeks.
Please visit the Agency’s website for information about licence activity types, the application process and regulatory requirements.
All licence applications and other documents should be submitted to Agency staff are working from home due to the COVID-19 lockdown, which means we are unable to answer phone calls and will not be in the office to receive hard copy applications.
We will be assessing licence applications during the lockdown, but our assessments may take a little longer than if we were all in the office. If the COVID-19 lockdown continues for an extended period, we also won't be able to carry out location inspections. If this is the case, we will review our plans for carrying out location inspections as part of the assessment process.

Information for health professionals
Currently, only cannabidiol (CBD) products and SativexTM may be prescribed to patients without approval from the Minister of Health.
The range of medicinal cannabis products available for patients will increase over time. For a product to be brought into the Scheme, a licensed supplier must apply to the Medicinal Cannabis Agency for a product assessment to establish the product meets the medicinal cannabis minimum quality standard.
The Medicinal Cannabis Agency’s website will be updated periodically as additional medicinal cannabis products are brought into the Scheme.

SativexTM is a cannabis-based product that is classified as a controlled drug. While SativexTM was consented as a medicine from 19 November 2010 as Sativex Oral Spray, case-by-case approval from the Minister of Health has been required for all new prescriptions.
From 1 April 2020, registered medical practitioners no longer need Ministerial approval to prescribe SativexTM for patients under their care, where this is within their scope of practice.
When a prescription has been issued, SativexTM can be dispensed to the patient by a registered pharmacist, or by a registered medical practitioner if the patient is in their care.

Medical vaporisers
Medicinal cannabis products may not be prescribed in a form designed for smoking. However, it is possible that products suitable for administration by medical vaporiser will be brought within the Scheme over time.
From 1 April 2020, medical vaporisers that have been approved as medical devices by an overseas regulator can be imported and sold in New Zealand. Other vaporiser devices, and utensils with prohibited features, continue to be prohibited.

Further information
You can find a range of further information on the Agency’s website, including background on the Scheme, guidance documents and licence application forms.
You can also email any queries to Please note that as we are already receiving a large number of emails, it may take us a few days to get back to you.

Ngā mihi,
Medicinal Cannabis Agency
Note: we have consolidated our inboxes and updated our email address. All enquiries about medicinal cannabis (including licensing) should now be sent to

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