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Battle lines drawn on prescribing Medical Cannabis

With the release of the Medical Cannabis Consultation paper, the most immediate contentious issue is prescribing.

The Ministry's preferred solution is for GPs to prescribe unconsented/off-label only with the support of a specialist.

This conflicts with the fact that those that are vocationally registered as GPs are considered specialists in General Practice.

Various groups have expressed opposition to this clause, in interviews this morning the issue was discussed.

"It needs to be acknowledged that vocationally trained GPs, are specialists in their own right" Dr Kate Baddock, NZMA Chair

"The idea that we need to kowtow to our hospital-based colleagues is ridiculous I think" Says Dr Richard Medlicott, of the RNZCGP

Key industry players also support unrestricted GP Prescribing.

"Helius has strongly advocated for general practitioners to be given professional discretion to prescribe medicinal cannabis for any condition," Says Managing Director Paul Manning

MCANZ, the patient-focused Medical Cannabis charity is also opposed to barriers placed on GPs.

"With formal accredited GP Training on Medical Cannabis becoming available, I don't see why they should be excluded from prescribing Medical Cannabis, particularly when comparing the safety compared to many conventional medicines," says MCANZ Spokesperson Mark Crotty

"Due to the postcode lottery of DHBs and the lack of pain specialists generally, there are significant equity issues for access if GPs need specialist endorsements to prescribe", says Mark.

"Ultimately, up and coming training packages mean that GPs will be able to prescribe when competent and confident enough, and regulatory barriers are not needed, we don't foresee GPs adopting problematic prescribing practices as seen in some looser US States," says Mark.

MCANZ has reached out to both the NZMA and RNZCGP to try and develop consensus on a position around GP prescribing

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