Cannabidiol (CBD) can now be prescribed by doctors

A small but important step towards making it easier to access the medicinal cannabis extract cannabidiol (CBD), which is a non-hallucinogenic extract and believed to be beneficial for a number of ailments and for pain relief.

There are very few products available in New Zealand, but was they become available the way is clear for doctors to prescribe them. Currently approval has to be sought through the Ministry of Health.

Australia has already dome something similar so it will allow New Zealand to access the same CBD based drugs that become available in Australia.

Peter Dunne has driven this, getting the approval of the National dominated Cabinet.

Beehive notice:

Government to ease restrictions on Cannabidiol

Associate Health Minister Peter Dunne says New Zealand is to remove restrictions around cannabidiol (CBD), in line with international developments.

CBD is a substance found in cannabis that has potential therapeutic value. It has little or no psychoactive properties, yet it is currently a controlled drug under the Misuse of Drugs Act.

“At present CBD products for therapeutic use are only available if approval is given by the Ministry of Health.

“I have taken advice from the Expert Advisory Committee on Drugs (EACD) that CBD should not be a controlled drug and am pleased Cabinet has now accepted my recommendation to make this change.  Therefore, I am now taking steps to remove restrictions accordingly.

“In practical terms, the changes mean CBD would be able to be prescribed by a doctor to their patient and supplied in a manner similar to any other prescription medicine.

“Australia has already taken a similar step while other countries are also responding to emerging evidence that CBD has a low risk of harm when used therapeutically.

“This change is about future-proofing access to CBD products, as the reality is that there will continue to be barriers beyond New Zealand’s control to people accessing such products from overseas,” says Mr Dunne.

Currently there is a limited range of CBD products made to a standard where prescribers can be sure the products contains what is claimed – and strict import and export restrictions on products sourced from other countries, which will continue to impact the supply of CBD products in New Zealand.

“However, we do know of at least one CBD product in development made to high manufacturing standards that will contain two per cent or less of the other cannabinoids found in cannabis,” said Mr Dunne.

The changes will include removing requirements for:

  • Ministerial approval to prescribe;
  • pharmacies, prescribers, and wholesalers to have an import licence, and to meet certain requirements for storage, and the maintaining of controlled drug records and stock keeping.

Prescriptions would be allowed for up to three months’ supply, rather than one month. These measures can be achieved by amending the Misuse of Drugs Regulations 1977 in the first instance, pending any future amendment of the Misuse of Drugs Act.

Government moves to legalise growing medicinal cannabis…

…in Australia. But changes there will put further pressure on the Government in New Zealand to look at similar changes here.

Government moves to legalise growing medicinal cannabis in Australia

The Federal Government has announced it will legalise the growing of cannabis for medicinal purposes.

Health Minister, Sussan Ley, says the Government wants to give people suffering from debilitating illnesses access to the most effective medical treatments.

Medicinal cannabis can already be provided under a special scheme, but Ms Ley says global supplies are relatively scarce and expensive.

SUSSAN LEY: I have heard stories of patients who resorted to illegal methods of obtaining cannabis and I have felt for them because with a terminal condition the most important thing is quality of life and relief of pain and we know that many people are calling out for medicinal cannabis.

It is important therefore that we recognise those calls for help, that we put in place what we know will support a safe, legal and sustainable supply of a product.

LOUISE YAXLEY: The Government intends to amend the Narcotic Drugs Act to allow cannabis to be grown for medicine or science, and that would ensure that Australia is not in breach of international drug treaties.

SUSSAN LEY: This is not a debate about legalisation of cannabis, this is not about drugs, this is not a product you smoke, this has nothing to do with that. 

Most commonly the product is an oil or a tincture that you put on your skin.

The shadow assistant Health Minister, Stephen Jones, said Labor would have a nationally consistent scheme.

STEPHEN JONES: It’s a truly national scheme to make medicinal cannabis available and it shouldn’t be a matter of whether you live in New South Wales or Victoria or somewhere else in Australia – if you are suffering from a terminal illness or if your child has drug resistant epilepsy, suffering from life threatening fits, then you should have available to you through medical advice and appropriate channels, medicinal cannabis.

Forget Dunne, I think he’s pushing as hard as he can in a difficult situation. He’s copping all the pressure, but the thing holding up faster change here is National.

Pressure John Key and target National MPs who might look favourable and compassionately on looking at better ways of alleviating the suffering of people.

Like Zoe Jeffries , a 7 year old girl with uncontrolled epilepsy, spastic quadriplegia cerebral palsy, microcephaly, cerebral visual impairment, is tube fed and who has had severe seizures since birth.

After two years her parents have got Ministry of Health approval to use the only available cannabis derived medicine in New Zealand, Sativex. At a cost to them of $250 per week. See Ministry of Health approves medicinal cannabis treatment.

For much to happen this term National need to change their intransigence substantially.

It would also help if the Greens and Labour pushed far more strongly and positively on this.

And public pressure needs to be strong but positive, a slanging match won’t change anything for the better.

“What is really ridiculous about the whole cannabis debate…”

A comment from ‘Robby’ sums up something that is really ridiculous about cannabis availability in New Zealand:

What is really ridiculous about the whole cannabis debate, is that the people who want a quality product with known medicinal benefits have to source it offshore and smuggle it past customs.

Everyone else (who just wants to roll a spliff and chill) just has to walk down the road and see ‘a guy they know’.

All the stoners get what they want, but the parents of sick kids have to go begging to politicians for medicine. The law is truly an ASS

It’s worse than that. It may be possible to source medicinal cannabis product from within New Zealand – but the quality, safety and composition may be unknown, while safely manufactured well specified product is very difficult to obtain.

“Don’t get sick, losers”

Paul Little seems to have bee on some bitter pills when he wrote his latest column, Can’t afford meds? Don’t get sick. 

Maybe some twisted pills as well.

So now you’re interested in the Trans Pacific Partnership. After years of warnings about the free trade agreement’s potentially disastrous effects on lapdog countries such as ours, which have been straining at the leash in our enthusiasm to see the deal signed off, the public has been given a hip-pocket reason to give a toss.

There have been a number of quite successful free agreements that have enabled New Zealand to become a relatively  independent trading nation.

“Lapdog countries such as ours” is an appalling description. Would Little prefer we were a poor, isolated backwater country?

Hitherto, objections have centred on far-fetched scenarios involving large corporations gaining control of nations’ intellectual property, suing foreign Governments for not doing their bidding and other nightmares.

Yes, there has been a lot of scary claims about what will happen, alongside claims that they don’t know what is being negotiated so don’t know what will happen. Paranoia promoted by a vacuum of knowledge.

Then John Key, in an uncharacteristically gauche move, admitted the cost of some medicines would go up under the TPP. This is hardly surprising. When the aim of a deal is to end protection, things tend to be left unprotected.

That’s contradictory and incorrect, the aim is not to “end protection”. The cost of some medicines could go up if greater protections are given to original drugs over generic drugs.

The PM has been such an enthusiastic supporter of the TPP that when he has no choice but to admit it has a tiny downside, you know it’s serious and almost certainly not the worst of it. He might have thought no one would notice – after all, health is almost proverbially something we take for granted.

We don’t know how serious nor do we know “the worst of it” because no agreement has been reached. The talks have stalled.

Any trade agreement has potential downsides, the aim is to negotiate more upsides than downsides. If you don’t get that you don’t make the agreement, as turned out in Hawaii yesterday. I wonder if Little wrote his column before he knew that?

But meddling doctors’ groups, not yet discredited in the way teachers, beneficiaries and unionists have been after decades of neoliberal governments, led the charge in deploring this possibility.

A few bitter pills there.

Our tough love Government must find this galling. Medicine, in its mind, is probably an extravagance indulged in by people who don’t have the mental fortitude to deal with illness and chronic conditions with positive thinking and a can-do attitude. Can’t afford medicine? Don’t get sick, losers.

And there’s some twisted pills.

So the Government has said that when – not if – costs go up, it will find the money to cover the difference. Governments, you’ll remember, usually get their money in one of two ways – from fabulously wealthy benefactors who dip into their own pockets to keep the country running; or from taxpayers.

Little seems to be getting his concoctions mixed up here. He seems to be taking a swipe at party donors “fabulously wealthy benefactors” which has nothing to do with Government revenue.

And as we have long known the tax burden falls disproportionately on those of limited means, who are also likelier to be poor, as the gap between richest and poorest widens, partly due to measures such as the TPP.

“The tax burden falls disproportionately on those of limited means” is an an often repeated nonsense. Those of the most limited means are provided for by wealthier people who pay the bulk of the tax.

Measures such as TPP type trade agreements stop New Zealand from going broke. Sure “the gap between richest and poorest” would be much narrower if we dind’t have trade agreements, we’d all be much poorer.

The final TPP talks are taking place at the Westin Maui Resort & Spa Ka’anapali in Hawaii, where every guest room has a Heavenly Bed, equipped with “a custom-designed Simmons Beautyrest pillow-top mattress set, cozy down blanket, three crisp sheets, a comforter, duvet and five fluffy pillows”. Heavenly Dog Beds are available on request.

It’s a good choice of location when it comes to selling the TPP. It shows us the standard of living we can all expect when the agreement goes through.

Perhaps Little would prefer trade negotiators stayed at Couchsurfing in Maui – the standard of living we could all expect without trade deals.

And for those of us worried about paying for medicine, just imagining what it’s like to sleep on a Heavenly Bed, or in some cases, just under a roof, will take our minds off our woes and stop us feeling sorry for ourselves.

Little seems to see himself as one of the poor who have to pay $5 for prescriptions in New Zealand. He certainly seems to be feeling very sorry for himself.

Some readers may have been lured into viewing a Seven Sharp item, widely re-posted online, in which Professor Jane Kelsey demolished some of the propaganda being used to sell the TPP and explained what it will really do.

Who is peddling propaganda? Kelsey has been campaigning against the TPP for a long time, warning “what it will really do” – when she is not complaining about not being told what it might do.

This is the Jane Kelsey who “is a key member of the Action Resource Education Network of Aotearoa (Arena), and is actively involved in researching and speaking out against the World Trade Organisation, the International Monetary Fund, free trade and corporate-led globalisation.” – Wikipedia.

Kelsey “is an outspoken critic of the Trans-Pacific Partnership free trade talks.”

Unfortunately, she did not do it in terms simple enough to be understood by Mike Hosking, who continued to frame his encounter with Kelsey in terms of winning, losing and point-scoring.

It’s not as if Kelsey or Little would resort to point scoring.

Please do not adjust your set – I am reliably informed this was an aberration and not an indication that Seven Sharp has taken to giving air space to intelligent commentary.

That’s Little’s concluding paragraph. After all the bitterness expressed about the TPP, trade, John key and the Government all he has to end with is a petty diss of another media outlet.

This column is not an indication that Little has taken to giving air space to intelligent commentary.

Paul Little sounds like a bitter loser. A sick column.