With public consultation closing tonight, the country’s largest licensed medicinal cannabis company, Helius Therapeutics, is urging Kiwis to have their say on the Ministry of Health’s discussion document for New Zealand’s Medicinal Cannabis Scheme.
Executive Director of Helius Therapeutics, Paul Manning, says the Government primarily wants feedback on whether the proposals in the discussion document meet its overall goal of improving patient access to quality medicinal cannabis products.
However, he says, since the 101-page document was released on 10 July, there has been widespread concern over one recommendation which, if adopted, would substantially impede patient access to cannabis medicines.
“Over the past month the recommendation that specialist sign-off is required before a GP can prescribe medicinal cannabis has been clearly rejected. It has been labelled as excessive and unnecessary by many medical experts, as well as patient advocates.”
Last week a Horizon Research survey of over 700 health professionals, released by Helius, revealed that 64% of all respondents believed GPs should be empowered to prescribe medicinal cannabis products on their own. Just 24% disagreed, and 12% were unsure.
Mr Manning believes the Ministry of Health is listening and is committed to assessing all feedback on the basis that its final regulations will not create barriers to access.
“The Ministry has done well with its consultation, including holding public information sessions, and remains genuinely engaged with the country’s health profession and the local medicinal cannabis industry. Overall, it has been a good process and we have every confidence that such issues have been clearly heard and will be acted upon.
“We’re encouraged to hear that so many have already had their say. However, for all those Kiwis who fought so hard for better patient access to medicinal cannabis, we’re keen to remind them that consultation closes today. The fight is by no means over, and people won’t get this opportunity again,” says Paul Manning.
Up until 5.00pm tonight (Wednesday, 7 August) the public can have their say by using the Ministry's online tool here, or send an electronic submission to firstname.lastname@example.org using this form.