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The Ministry of Health is now responsible for overseeing all prescriptions of cannabis-based products, after Associate Health Minister Peter Dunne announced prescriptions will no longer require Ministerial approval.
Dunne said improved guidelines have made him confident the Ministry is able to handle the application process.
Dr Yu-Wei Luke Chu of Victoria’s School of Economics and Finance has published research on the effects of medicinal cannabis laws and believes that the devolution of the decision-making authority is generally a positive development.
Dr Chu also acknowledged the benefits of medicinal cannabis for pain relief, and stated that the majority of the research “doesn’t find any strong negative social effects” as a result of increased access.
Dunne has urged medical practitioners to be open-minded about prescribing medicinal cannabis, rather than deciding based on “their wariness and in some cases downright prejudice.”
The procedural change comes two years after the high-profile case of Alex Renton, the first person in New Zealand to be granted an exemption to use medicinal cannabis.