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Medicinal cannabis

How medicinal cannabis works

CBD (cannabidiol) is one of 104 known chemical compounds found in the cannabis plant, known as cannabinoids.

Unlike THC, the psychoactive cannabinoid that gives users a ‘high’, CBD is non-psychoactive meaning it is not mind-altering. CBD is being explored s a therapeutic medicine with a range of health benefits.

So how does CBD work? All cannabinoids, including CBD, produce effects in the body by attaching to certain receptors in the Endocannabinoid system.

The Endocannaboid system, present in all humans and animals, is a system of receptors that doctors are only just beginning to study; what we do know is that this system is responsible for fine-tuning most of our vital functions, and that cannabinoids, most importantly CBD, work directly with this system to produce profound effects and benefits.

What medicinal cannabis can treat

As medicinal cannabis has only just been legalised in the US and other parts of the world, the science is still catching up.

Preliminary testing has shown medicinal cannabis may have potential benefits in the following areas:

Pain relief andanti-inflammatoryproperties

Quitting smoking and drug withdrawals


Other neurological symptoms and disorders

Fighting cancer

Type 1 diabetes


Alzheimer’s disease

Anxiety disorders including:

  • post-traumatic stress disorder
  • general anxiety disorder
  • panic disorder
  • social anxiety disorder
  • obsessive-compulsive disorder

Current legislation in New Zealand

Cannabidiol (CBD) is now classified in New Zealand as a prescription-only medicine in Schedule One, Part One of the Medicines Regulations 1984. This follows a legislative change made in December 2018 with the passing of the Misuse of Drugs (Medicinal Cannabis) Amendment Act where CBD was rightly removed from the Misuse of Drugs Act 1975 as a controlled drug.

A New Zealand registered medical practitioner is able to prescribe a CBD product if they consider that it is clinically appropriate to treat their patient. They need to specify the brand of CBD product they wish to prescribe on the prescription.

As there are no CBD products currently in New Zealand with consent for distribution (meaning no company has submitted their product for assessment by Medsafe for its safety, quality or efficacy), the medical practitioner is responsible for any outcomes following use of the CBD product, and must obtain informed consent from their patient before prescribing it.

The future of medicinal cannabis

The science of medicinal cannabis in its infancy and already showing incredible promise, we are excited for the future of cannabis.

Over the next few years, more funding will be put into the research and development of medicinal cannabis products than ever before, including the exciting research of other existing cannabinoids. Paired with this is the advancement of medical science and education. With consensus on the importance of the endocannabinoid system in regulating our bodily functions and overall health increasing, we will see an upswing in the number of doctors who specialise in this field of knowledge, and the continual acceptance of cannabis as a legitimate, and even preferred remedial option.

Put simply, the future is looking bright for the medicinal cannabis industry, medical care, and most importantly the health and wellbeing of people in need of care. While science continues to prove and uncover the medical benefits and applications of the cannabis plant, we will be at the forefront, bringing these benefits to you in the form of high-quality, effective products that make your life better.

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