New Zealand’s journey with medicinal cannabis has been a subject of curiosity. In recent years, the country has seen a gradual shift in its attitude toward cannabis, paving the way for the development of a legal medicinal cannabis industry.
Latest numbers from the Ministry of Health demonstrate the rate that medicinal cannabis in New Zealand is growing and the increased acceptance. The number of units sold to patients in New Zealand has drastically increased over the last 5 years, increasing from just over 2,300 in 2018 to nearly 65,000 in 2022. Forecast for 2023 is that an estimated 130,000 units will be distributed to patients, equating to around 15,000 patients in New Zealand.
The numbers released from the Ministry of Health don’t account for industry growth in the export sector which has been steadily growing with New Zealand grown product now available to patients in Germany, UK and Australia.
Below we explore the trends surrounding medicinal cannabis sales in New Zealand, highlighting the evolving landscape, regulatory changes, and the growing acceptance of cannabis for therapeutic purposes.
- Legislative Developments:
In April 2020, the New Zealand government implemented the Misuse of Drugs (Medicinal Cannabis) Regulations, signalling a significant milestone in the country’s approach to medicinal cannabis. These regulations created a framework for the domestic cultivation, manufacture, and distribution of medicinal cannabis products, making it easier for patients to access these treatments.
- Increasing Patient Access:
Since the regulatory changes, there has been a notable increase in patient access to medicinal cannabis products in New Zealand. This stems from both wider acceptance from general practitioners prescribing medicinal cannabis and the expanding number of clinics that specialise in medicinal cannabis.
- Public Perception and Awareness:
Public perception and awareness of medicinal cannabis have also undergone a significant transformation in New Zealand. The negative stigma surrounding cannabis is gradually diminishing, as more people recognise its therapeutic potential. The media has played a vital role in disseminating accurate information and sharing patient success stories, contributing to the growing acceptance of medicinal cannabis within the wider population.
- Economic Opportunities:
The emergence of a regulated medicinal cannabis industry has also created economic opportunities in New Zealand. The industry has the potential to generate employment, foster innovation, and contribute to the country’s economy. Licensed producers and associated businesses are investing in cultivation facilities, manufacturing infrastructure, and research, further stimulating economic growth.
The trajectory of medicinal cannabis sales in New Zealand is undoubtedly trending upward. The legislative changes, increased patient access, emerging market players, research, and development efforts, shifting public perception, and economic opportunities all contribute to the overall positive trajectory. With a growing number of patients benefiting from medicinal cannabis and ongoing advancements in research, New Zealand’s medicinal cannabis industry has the potential to become a leading hub for innovation and patient care in the coming years.