The NZ Associate Minister of Health (resp. Drug Policy) has recently announced that this Govt. are finally moving to further relax the rules around medicinal cannabis. Sounded Great (for my 1000th post)
BUT if you listen to the interview & read the reports, in the media.. it’s about the most minimal ‘changes’ that could be made. Yesterday, I heard a TV reporter say “A BIG announcement is coming” then continued, that Specialist doctors could in the near future, be able to prescribe Cannabis drugs, where previously they had to be, individually requested from a GP doctor to a Specialist, then sent onto the Minister, for final approval. The only exception/recent change, being for ‘Sativex’.. that once recommended by the Specialist doctor, is effectively ‘rubber stamped’ in the Ministers Dept.
BUT it seems that the original media reports jumped the gun somewhat.. I now read that:
‘Seriously ill patients seeking medicinal cannabis to ease their symptoms will no longer have to take their cause right the way to the top, but access to the drugs will remain tightly controlled.’
‘From today, authority to approve applications for non-pharmaceutical grade medicinal cannabis products no longer resides with the Minister.’
‘Instead the Ministry of Health has ultimate sign-off for all applications, Associate Health Minister (name removed) announced.’
Then this quote from the Assoc. minister:
“Last week I wrote to the Director-General of Health, advising him that as of February 8, 2017, applications from specialists to the Ministry to prescribe non-pharmaceutical cannabis-based products will no longer need ministerial approval,”
Then these statements, in the report:
‘The Ministry of Health already had the power to sign-off on a specialist’s application to prescribe pharmaceutical-grade drug Sativex, and in December last year, that need for approval was removed for clinicians wanting to prescribe the drug to people suffering multiple sclerosis.’
‘(The Assoc. Minister) has hinted more changes could be on the way, to further loosen prescribing rules for specialists wanting to prescribe Sativex for conditions other than multiple sclerosis.’
‘It may have been this, that (The Minister of Health) was referring to in comments he made on Tuesday, suggesting more prescribing authority could be placed with specialists.’
‘(Assoc. Minister) said Wednesday’s changes recognised that application procedures had been tested to a level where he could feel confident he wasn’t throwing officials under the bus, by delegating them approval authority.’
Then this from the Green party health-spokesperson :
“(Assoc. Minister) has removed one hoop New Zealanders have had to jump through to get access to medical cannabis, but there are still many more that need to go before people can get the medicine they need,”
“With the advice and support of their doctor, New Zealanders should be able to access medical cannabis as easily and as cheaply as they do any other prescription drug – the announcement today doesn’t allow that to happen.”
So.. in reading & listening to this information; It actually sounds like the Minister of Health (Senior/TOP Minister) has been over-ruled by his Associate (who has ‘responsibility’ spec. for Drug policy)
The Minister ‘suggesting’; that Specialist doctors (but not GPs) would be able to prescribe Cannabis drugs (But NOT the ‘raw herb’.. ruled out ?).. but then the Assoc. Minister is saying ‘NO..the final approvals for any/all cannabinoids.. still lies in his Dept.‘ (ALL now to be rubber stamped by his officials (clerical staff ?), instead of him personally).
The obvious point being; why are GP Doctors ‘trusted’ to prescribe Opiates (Class A) but not Cannabinoids (Class B – Pharm. extracts) ? btw; The ‘raw herb’ (totally ruled out is Class C, supposedly the ‘least harmful’ class)
The report also uses these terms; ‘Pharmaceutical’ & ‘Non-pharmaceutical’. I think this needs to be further clarified, as it could lead some (including I) to think the ‘raw herb’ could be approved, as a ‘non-pharmaceutical’ option ?
The other anomaly being; No cannabis drugs in Aotearoa/NZ are funded by the Govt. funding agency. This means that Sativex is currently costing patients, over $1000/month (more expensive than ‘black-market’ herb). Funded drugs, currently cost $5/script. One reason given ‘there is a concern it will be ‘on-sold’ by patients to the black-market.’ All I can say is “What a load of B-S/misinfo.” 😦
This further confirms that, instead of Aotearoa/NZ being a ‘world leader’ (as is often claimed by our politicians).. on this issue, we are sliding further to the ‘back of the pack’.. ONLY, one step up from eff. ‘Zero-tolerance’ !