Ministry of health papers on medical cannabis

Ministry of Health provide more clarity on cannabis-based products

Changes in terminology may help the terminally ill

The Ministry of Health made changes yesterday to the terminology they use in their descriptions of cannabis-based products. The changes also reach in to the applications themselves, in order to better reflect how applications for medicinal cannabis are assessed.

Criteria simply becomes guidelines, but why?

According to the Ministry of Health, the previously used term criteria has been replaced by guidelines to better reflect how applications (for medicinal cannabis) are assessed, however they make it very clear that the changes do not impact on the legal status of cannabis of any cannabis-based products…. so why the change of wording?

Leniency towards medicinal cannabis is why…

The word criteria is actually somewhat confusing, it’s the plural of the word criterion, a standard of judgment or criticism; a rule or principle for evaluating or testing something (namely whether a patient is approved for medicinal cannabis use in this case).

By replacing criteria with guidelines the Ministry of Health have essentially allowed for some lenience towards those patients seeking medical cannabis. A guideline is a general rule, principle or piece of advice… more akin to a suggestion than a rule.It would appear that the Ministry have acquired the much needed quality of being more merciful or tolerant towards those that seek cannabis-based products for medicinal use.

Does this make it easier to get approval for medicinal cannabis?

Yes, potentially. Although no changes to the legal status of cannabis or cannabis-based products have been made, it certainly gives practitioners a little more confidence when submitting applications for Ministerial approval to prescribe, supply and administer cannabis-based products for medicinal use.

Additionally the Ministry published a document that outlines external consultation that recently took place on the guidelines used to assess applications to prescribe cannabis-based products.

One of the most important parts of the document, includes an amendment to the guidelines which means that a patient seeking non-pharmaceutical grade cannabis-based products no longer needs to be hospitalised when treatment of said product is initiated. This is a huge step forward for medical cannabis in New Zealand, it means that the government and the Ministry of Health have recognised that being hospitalised is not only unnecessary, expensive and time consuming… but should allow those with serious health conditions to be closer to their friends and family when they need them most.

More information can be found on the Ministry of Health website under “Prescribing cannabis-based products” – formally titled Medicinal cannabis.