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New Zealand Medicinal Cannabis Market Update

With life in New Zealand slowly returning to normal, and all aspects of NUBU Pharmaceuticals roaring back to life with it, I thought now would be a good time to update you as to where the company and the industry as a whole is at.

Mid-lockdown, without too much fanfare, New Zealand received its long-awaited medicinal cannabis scheme. The arrival of the scheme also saw the arrival of a new agency under the Ministry of Health – the aptly named Medicinal Cannabis Agency (MCA). I’m certain hours and hours were spent ruminating on that one.

Of course, the Misuse of Drugs (Medicinal Cannabis) Regulations 2019 were passed into law in December 2019, but April saw the release of necessary guidance (so as companies like NUBU understood the finer details of how the regulations would work), and (and probably most importantly), April saw the application process open for licenses to grow, manufacture and sell medicinal cannabis products to patients here in New Zealand.

Fast forward to June, and there have been 18 applications to the MCA to grow cannabis commercially, 7 to manufacture cannabis products and 16 to supply medicinal cannabis products – NUBU being one of those 16.

From a patient perspective though, nothing has changed. The new regulations dictate that all medicinal cannabis products distributed in New Zealand must be registered with the MCA before they can be released to patients – this is to ensure product quality and safety. And given that application process is quite in-depth, so far, no products have been registered.

Unfortunately for patients, with no products registered, the old prescription pathways continue. This is not such a big deal for patients using or wanting access to Cannabidiol (CBD) products, as all GP’s had the ability to prescribe CBD products to whomever they felt would benefit, prior to April 1st. But, for patients wanting a medication containing more than minuscule amounts of THC, this is disappointing news.

The old regime dictates that anyone wanting access to a THC based medication needs approval from their Doctor, a specialist and then the Ministry of Health before they can receive a product. However, with the arrival of the new regulations on April 1st, this process would be unwound, with the approval of a specialist and the Ministry removed from the process. Leaving responsibility solely with a patients Doctor – makes sense. But, this only applied to THC products approved by the MCA. And with no such approval as yet, in short, for thousands of patients across New Zealand, the wait continues.

From a company perspective (now that lockdown is over), NUBU is moving forward in leaps and bounds. We are now one of the few cannabis companies in New Zealand generating revenue (and that is revenue from business activities that actually relate to our core business), and our Innovation arm – lead by Amanda Bishop (ex ecostore and The Collective) have secured some massive wins on the product development front recently. All of which we will be making public in the coming months.

So until then, I hope as is well with you and yours? You have made it out of lockdown unscathed and are rearing for the world post Covid. Don’t forget too, if you ever have any questions relating to medicinal cannabis or the industry here in New Zealand, please feel free to reach out.


Mark Dye

CEO NUBU Pharmaceuticals

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