Video | Agriculture | Confidence | Economy | Energy | Employment | Finance | Media | Property | RBNZ | Science | SOEs | Tax | Technology | Telecoms | Tourism | Transport | Search

 

Medicinal Cannabis Scheme takes effect, despite Covid-19

Medicinal Cannabis Scheme takes effect, despite Covid-19

By Paul Manning


Paul Manning

Given the extraordinary circumstances that Covid-19 presents, it admirable the Ministry of Health has forged ahead with the Medicinal Cannabis Scheme, which came into effect as planned on 1 April.

Since the final regulations were announced late last year, the Ministry has been working closely with the country’s newest industry. Officials have been keen to ensure research and development licence-holders are well equipped to take the next steps. These include applying for the likes of commercial cultivation and manufacturing licences, so Kiwi companies like Helius can shift into production.

Despite the impacts of Covid-19, the Medicinal Cannabis Agency has delivered the Scheme’s guidance and licensing material. Applications are now underway and expected to attract plenty of interest from businesses big and small.

The new agency expects it will take a minimum of three months, possibly longer, for them to assess, inspect, and grant applications.

Covid-19 has disrupted the country’s first medicinal cannabis conference, MedCan Summit 2020, although we’re optimistic it will take place later this year. The two-day SkyCity event was almost a complete sell-out, but it had to be postponed last month. As foundation sponsor, we’ve since committed further funding to ensure BiotechNZ can still host the summit, with a new date soon to be announced.

After years of anticipation, the Scheme’s 1 April commencement kicked off rather quietly. Nonetheless, it marks a significant new dawn for medicinal cannabis in New Zealand. A staggering number of suffering Kiwis, including 740,000 living with chronic pain, will potentially benefit from greater access to more affordable medicinal cannabis products.

As well as legalising local cultivation and manufacturing to increase supply and continuity of products, the Scheme will enable significant economic and exporting opportunities, with new GDP-adding industries like ours more important than ever before.

The scheme also imposes GMP (Good Manufacturing Practice) standards which will ensure quality and consistency of cannabinoid-based medicines, giving more medical practitioners the confidence to prescribe and only further enhancing patient access.

Just on that, the Ministry of Health deserves to be commended for its work on finetuning its draft regulations last year. One key aspect Helius strongly advocated for was giving all GPs the professional discretion to prescribe medicinal cannabis, without specialist sign-off. In the end the Ministry agreed, and that’s great news for patients.

Currently, only CBD products and Sativex may be prescribed to patients without approval from the Minister of Health. The range of medicinal cannabis products available for patients will increase over time, including options with THC, as local medicinal cannabis producers, like Helius, enter the market. New products must be assessed by the agency and meet quality standards.

With building disruptions across the industry, new locally-made cannabis products are unlikely to appear in 2020. For Helius, it's a marathon not a sprint, with our strategy focused on developing novel medicinal cannabis preparations and taking products through clinical trials.

In the meantime, foreign medicinal cannabis products will increasingly be imported, with overseas brands already claiming first-mover advantage in New Zealand. In fact, there are several products now available here – none of them local.

International players will continue to benefit in the short-term over local manufacturers. While we can expect more to apply to sell their products here, few are capable of meeting New Zealand’s quality standards. Another reality is that in recent months the world’s largest cannabis firms have had to endure a significant market correction, forcing many to retrench.

The delays associated with Covid-19 will undoubtedly dampen FY20/21 financial results from the nascent industry, but as New Zealand’s largest medicinal cannabis company we’re uniquely positioned to weather the storm. Late last year, we raised a further $20 million in capital taking our market capitalisation to $105 million. All our investors are Kiwis and share our vision of unlocking the extraordinary potential of cannabis to improve quality of life.

Despite any challenges or frustrations for New Zealand’s medicinal cannabis industry, we’re not losing sight of our fundamental belief that every New Zealander deserves the right to a pain-free existence.

It is the needless suffering of thousands of Kiwis that saw the public and our Parliament support greater access to medicinal cannabis in 2018. Those same patients, and their families, continue to motivate us to deliver world-class New Zealand-made cannabis medicines, as soon as we possibly can.

www.helius.co.nz

Paul Manning is the Co-Founder and Chief Executive of Helius Therapeutics.


© Scoop Media

 
 
 
Business Headlines | Sci-Tech Headlines

 

National: National Backs Businesses With $10k JobStart

National will provide a $10,000 cash payment to businesses that hire additional staff as part of our commitment to keeping New Zealanders in jobs, National Party Leader Todd Muller and Finance spokesperson Paul Goldsmith have announced. Our JobStart ... More>>

ALSO:

DIY Law: Government Exempts Some Home Improvements From Costly Consents

Homeowners, builders and DIYers will soon have an easier time making basic home improvements as the Government scraps the need for consents for low-risk building work such as sleep-outs, sheds and carports – allowing the construction sector ... More>>

ALSO:

Media Awards: The New Zealand Herald Named Newspaper Of The Year, Website Of The Year At Voyager Media Awards

The New Zealand Herald has been labelled a “powerhouse news operation” as it claims the two biggest prizes – Newspaper of the Year and Website of the Year – along with many individual awards at the 2020 Voyager Media Awards Website of the ... More>>

ALSO:

ASB Bank: ASB Takes The Lead Again With New Low Home Loan Interest Rate

ASB has moved again to support its customers, cutting a number of home loan rates, including the two-year special rate to a new low of 2.69% p.a. Craig Sims, ASB executive general manager Retail Banking says the reduced rate will be welcome news for many ... More>>

ALSO:

Nathan Hoturoa Gray: The Problems With Testing And Case Statistics For Covid-19

To begin to understand disease transmission in a country requires adequate testing of your population with properly vetted, accurate tests. As the world struggles to find what 'adequate percentage' of the population is necessary, (estimates predict ... More>>

ALSO:

RNZ: Fletcher Building To Lay Off 1000 Staff In New Zealand

The construction company will cut around 10 percent of its workforce as it struggles with the fallout from Covid-19. More>>

ALSO:

Can Pay, Won't Pay: Cashflow Moves Urged

Government Ministers are asking significant private enterprises to adopt prompt payment practices in line with the state sector, as a way to improve cashflow for small businesses. More>>

ALSO:

Gordon Campbell: On Why We Should Legally Protect The Right To Work From Home

For understandable reasons, the media messaging around Level Two has been all about “freedom” and “celebration”, but this is not necessarily going to be a universal experience. When it comes to workplace relations, Level Two is just as likely to ... More>>

ALSO:



Auckland Airport: Thousands Of Kiwis Travelling For Queen’s Birthday Weekend


Confidence in domestic travel is beginning to steadily ramp up, with thousands of Kiwis travelling within New Zealand for Queen’s Birthday.
Nearly 400 flights will be operating to and from Auckland Airport over the long weekend... More>>

ALSO:

Science Media Centre: Understanding 5G Concerns – Expert Q&A


Recent attacks on cell phone towers have brought concerns over the rollout of 5G technology into sharp relief.
While scientific research has consistently shown that the technology does not adversely affect human health, public concerns about its impact have spread around the world, fueled in part by growing misinformation online. The SMC asked experts to comment... More>>

ALSO:


Trade: Record Monthly Surplus As Imports Dive

Imports in April 2020 had their biggest fall since October 2009, resulting in a monthly trade surplus of $1.3 billion, Stats NZ said today. “This is the largest monthly trade surplus on record and the annual goods trade deficit is the lowest ... More>>

ALSO:


Media Blues: Stuff Chief Executive Buys Company For $1

Stuff chief executive Sinead Boucher has purchased Stuff from its Australian owners Nine Entertainment for $1.
The chief executive was returning the company to New Zealand ownership, with the sale is expected to be completed by 31 May.
"Our plan is to transition the ownership of Stuff to give staff a direct stake in the business as shareholders," Boucher said in a statement.... More>>

ALSO:

RNZ: Bar Reopening Night 'much, Much Quieter'

Pubs and bars are reporting a sluggish first day back after the lockdown, with the fear of going out, or perhaps the joy of staying home, thought to be a reason for the low numbers. More>>

ALSO:

Stats NZ: New Zealand’s Population Passes 5 Million

New Zealand's resident population provisionally reached 5 million in March 2020, Stats NZ said today. More>>

NIWA: Seven Weeks Of Clearing The Air Provides Huge Benefits: Scientist

Seven weeks of lockdown has provided evidence of how pollution can vanish overnight with benefits for the environment and individuals, says NIWA air quality scientist Dr Ian Longley. Dr Longley has been monitoring air quality in Auckland, Wellington ... More>>

ALSO:

Government: Milestone In Cash Flow Support To SMEs

A significant package of tax reforms will be pushed through all stages in Parliament today to throw a cash flow lifeline to small businesses. More>>

ALSO: