Now you have another reason to be jealous of New Zealanders. If your envy wasn’t stoked by the fact that they live in Middle Earth and or that some of them probably know Russell Crowe, it will get properly stoked by the fact that they now have a better medical marijuana program than the U.S. and most other countries.
On Friday the country’s Ministry of Health announced a new loosening of laws that will allow doctors to prescribe medicinal CBD extract to pretty much whoever they see fit, just like every other drug, as reported by the Kiwi outlet Stuff. It’s a big deal for a country that up until now had an MMJ program that was even more cumbersome than the ones in most American states.
As the law currently stands, every single patient who wants to receive CBD treatment has to get reviewed and approved by the Ministry of Health. Using CBD without their OK is considered an offence of misusing prescription drugs. But all that will change in just two months when the new regulations go into effect.
The movement to change MMJ laws in New Zealand was headed by an epileptic boy Alex Renton, who with his family fought publicly for the right to use CBD oil. Renton died in 2015 after falling into “status epilepticus,” bringing even more attention to the issue. Cannabis extract lessened his symptoms, but couldn’t save his life. His mother Rose believes that if Alex had been able to start CBD treatment sooner, his life might have been spared.
Rose Renton said her son would be proud of the new medical cannabis laws. “His soul is lighter, knowing he paved the way to help people get relief legally, that’s what his life has ended up being about,” she said.
The new rule on CBD oil is a won battle, but not the end of the war. Renton argues that it’s “only half the plant” and says she intends to keep advocating for the proliferation of THC and other cannabinoids in the country’s medical marijuana program.
There’s also the issues of cost and availability. As several states in America have observed, just because you make cannabis legal doesn’t mean there’s an effective infrastructure for getting it. Pharmac, a company that subsidizes prescription drug costs in New Zealand, isn’t covering CBD treatment. This will make prolonged use “unsustainable” according to Stuff.
The country might not even have enough CBD product to administer to its patients once the floodgates open, according to Drug Foundation executive director Ross Bell. “For doctors to prescribe them they’re still going to need to source the product from overseas and have that imported into the country,” he said.