The College has responded to the Health Committee’s call for public submissions on the Misuse of Drugs (Medicinal Cannabis) Bill.

The College’s submission

Our submission makes six recommendations about the Bill. We have also endorsed the New Zealand Medical Association’s position statement on medicinal cannabis and the eight recommendations in its statement.

Our submission is based on our analysis of the Bill and feedback from our members.

Our recommendations

  1. The Committee considers how a consultation will align with the Health and Disability Services Consumers’ Rights, particularly Right 6 – the right to be fully informed.
  2. The Government implements a public health campaign and an authoritative source of information that patients can refer to receive information on illicit cannabis.
  3. The Government facilitates training for medical practitioners, with training on changes to the law and discussing the harms and benefits of therapeutic and illicit cannabis use.
  4. A cannabis product must meet Medsafe’s criteria to be classed as a medicine.
  5. The Government should facilitate research on the medical potential of cannabis, as this will allow for a larger evidence base to make informed decisions.
  6. The Committee considers how the medicinal cannabis scheme may work with the Therapeutics Bill.


There is potential for confusion in terminology, as the Bill does not define the term ‘medicinal cannabis’. We have adopted the following definitions.

Botanical cannabis: Cannabis in its plant form, this cannabis is unprocessed and is used for recreational, and therapeutic reasons.

Cannabidiol (CBD): CBD is a substance found in cannabis that has potential therapeutic value and little or no psychoactive properties.

Illicit cannabis: Cannabis or cannabis-based products that are not legal to use in New Zealand, for example botanical cannabis. It is currently difficult for medical practitioners to know the content of illicit cannabis and what, if any, pesticides or other substances, have been used on botanical cannabis or illegal cannabis-based products.

Medicinal cannabis: Pharmaceutical grade products.

Pharmaceutical grade products: Refers to products which the New Zealand Medicines and Medical Devices Safety Authority (Medsafe) has classified as safe, for example Sativex.

Recreational use: Consumers who use cannabis to ‘get high’, for example smoking botanical cannabis.

Tetrahydrocannabinol: is the psychoactive part of cannabis that produces a ‘high’.

Therapeutic use: Consumers who use botanical cannabis and cannabis-based products which may have a higher CBD content compared to THC. These products are not pharmaceutical grade. This usage is different from recreational use as the end goal is not to get high.

Our submission

Read our submission to the Health Committee, 21 March 2018 here

Further information

For any questions about this submission, please contact

Misuse of Drugs (Medicinal Cannabis) Bill

Read our news story and comment from College President Dr Tim Malloy on our submission to Parliament..

Read here

Read our College submission

Read our College submission to Parliament.

Read here