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New Zealand Regulation of Cannabis-based Product
Is CBD Oil Legal in New Zealand?
A breakdown of New Zealand law and regulations surrounding cannabis-based products like CBD oil in 2022.
Cannabidiol (CBD) is one of many natural compounds in the cannabis plant, classed as a cannabinoid. It has drawn the most attention recently as a key driver behind the legalization of cannabis due to the growing amount of research into its potential application in human health and well-being.
So what does NZ law say about CBD oil and cannabis-based products? Are these legal to buy? Here’s everything you need to know.
CBD Products - How Can I Legally Get CBD in New Zealand?
On April 1st 2020, the Ministry of Health introduced the Medical Cannabis Scheme to make it easier to access medical cannabis products like CBD oil. According to this regulation, “CBD products may be prescribed by any doctor registered to practice in New Zealand.“
A CBD product does not require ministerial approval to be prescribed, supplied or dispensed anymore. They now class as normal prescription medicines. As with all prescription medicines, patients must have a prescription from an authorized prescriber to use CBD products. Many GP’s still don’t realize it, but they can legally write you a prescription.
If you experience pushback from your GP and would like to try CBD oil, you can go to a medical cannabis specialist.
Under New Zealand law, a CBD product is defined as a product that contains cannabidiol:
- AND must have < 2% of THC (or any other psychoactive components within cannabis)
- AND does not contain any other controlled drug
- AND contains cannabidiol and does not contain a psychoactive substance.
Be aware that most CBD products on the international market do not meet New Zealand’s definition of a CBD product. Therefore, your doctor must prescribe or source a CBD Isolate or a Broad Spectrum CBD to meet this standard.
The most common CBD product type is Full-Spectrum CBD, a less refined version containing many other cannabinoids and terpenes but has THC levels above the allowed threshold. Unfortunately, this full-spectrum CBD is a superior product but falls under a different legal category of medical cannabis explained below.
Read more about CBD products on the Ministry of Health website.
What Is The Process For Assessing CBD Products?
The Medicinal Cannabis Agency assesses, approves and regulates all medicinal cannabis products (CBD oil included).
The New Zealand Ministry of Health created the agency to ensure that every medicinal cannabis product is tested correctly and meets the minimum quality standard.
The idea for the medicinal cannabis scheme was conceived in late 2017 when the NZ government committed to getting medicinal cannabis to those with chronic pain and those with terminal illnesses (cancer patients, for example).
The Medicinal Cannabis Agency Process
There are many avenues that the Medicinal Cannabis Agency covers.
One of the primary duties of the agency is assessing medicinal cannabis products and determining if they meet the minimum quality standards of the Ministry of Health. In addition, they check the general quality of the product and check if it meets the requirements for legal medicinal cannabis products.
The other primary duty of the medicinal cannabis agency is providing medicinal cannabis licenses to those who want to work in the medicinal cannabis industry.
If you obtain a medicinal cannabis license, you can legally cultivate, research, manufacture and supply medicinal cannabis and CBD products.
Obtaining a medicinal cannabis license involves inspections of your business locations, extra fees that can amount to over $20,000, and extra required licenses (for example, a license to manufacture medicines).
Once the agency approves you for a license, they will continue to assess your product to make sure it consistently meets the minimum quality standards.
Can I Buy CBD Oil Online?
You CANNOT legally buy CBD online from a website in another country where CBD is freely available. If you do, you run the risk of losing it at customs.
If you come across a website shipping CBD to New Zealand, we advise you don’t risk spending a few hundred dollars to lose it at customs.
Some websites might even look like they’re shipping from New Zealand with ‘.co.nz’ domains. However, more often than not, they’re just international brands trying their luck.
Can I Bring CBD Into New Zealand In My Luggage?
If you are travelling, you may bring a medicinal cannabis product like CBD oil into New Zealand if:
- the product has been prescribed to you by a doctor
- you have a copy of the prescription or a letter from your doctor stating that you are being treated with the product
- you declare the product on your passenger arrival card
- you carry the product in its original container, and
- you are bringing no more than a 3-month supply of a CBD product or a 1-month supply of any other medicinal cannabis product.
What Forms Of CBD Products Are Legally Available In New Zealand?
The main form that CBD products are available in is CBD oil. CBD oil products are excellent for numbing pain receptors (can numb pains of the back, neck, joints, etc.) and soothing people with inflammatory illnesses such as Crohn’s disease, multiple sclerosis, ulcerative colitis, and more.
Manufacturers bolster CBD oils with a carrier oil like coconut oil to make it easier to dose. CBD oil products vary depending on their strength; lower strength CBD oil is better for more minor pains and issues, and higher strength is better for worse pains.
If you don’t like the process of using CBD oil, a similar alternative is using an oral spray or oral drops. These will have the same effects, but you don’t have to place them under the tongue.
Alternative CBD products include CBD gummies and CBD topicals like creams, ointments and balms.
All of these CBD products need a doctor’s prescription for you to legally obtain them.
What About Other Cannabis Products With THC In Them?
Cannabis-based products usually contain one or both of CBD and THC. Most of the research and benefits focus on these two cannabinoids; these are the two ingredients you’ll see in most cannabis-based products. Some less refined or full-spectrum products may also contain the plant’s other cannabinoids and terpenes.
Can reduce the anxiety and the effect of the THC high
Responsible for the psychological effects such as head high, potential increase in heart rate, and slower reaction times
Cannabinoids may work better when taken together due to a principle known as the “entourage effect”. The entourage effect means that whole-plant cannabis extracts may offer more health benefits than CBD alone.
However, whole-plant extracts typically contain more THC than is allowable for CBD products in New Zealand. Instead, these fall into the category of medicinal cannabis products.
Medicinal Cannabis Products in New Zealand
Pharmaceutical Grade Cannabis Products That HAVE CONSENT For Distribution in New Zealand
Consent for distribution means that Medsafe has determined the product to meet acceptable safety and efficacy requirements for distribution in New Zealand.
From 1 April 2020, registered medical practitioners no longer need Ministerial approval to prescribe Sativex™ for off-label use for patients under their care, which is within their scope of practice. When they issue a prescription, Sativex™ is dispensed to the patient by a registered pharmacist or a registered medical practitioner if the patient is in their care.
Medical practitioners can prescribe Sativex™ without ministerial approval for any on-label or off-label indications within their scope of practice, where there is a clinical need.
Sativex is an unfunded CBD and THC solution in a 1:1 ratio, meaning it will cause a high in some people.
Medical Cannabis Versus Recreational Cannabis
Doctors use Medicinal cannabis to help treat disease or symptoms of medical conditions where they dose cannabinoids accordingly. In contrast, recreational cannabis has developed purely for the experience of the ‘high’. When looking at individual cannabinoids, medicinal treatment excels using a balance of cannabinoids and terpenes, which in some cases may result in a small high at large doses. Recreational use, however, has seen the development of cannabis plants with extremely high levels of THC and low levels of CBD to produce a strong high.
Dosing of Medicinal Cannabis
The recommended dose is difficult to be sure of due to the extensive range of products tested in studies.
Some are synthetic, and some are natural (plant-based and have different strengths from different parts of the plant).
Different products have different amounts of cannabinoids, so it is difficult to know the correct dose. Some products are more reliable for dosing than others.
There are side effects and dangers of using smoked cannabis for medicinal use because it is impossible to know what doses are inhaled.
The general advice for any medicinal cannabis product is to start with low doses and increase slowly to assess for beneficial effects. You can read more about CBD oil dosage in our dosage guide here.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is CBD Illegal In New Zealand?
CBD oil and other medicinal cannabis products are legal in New Newland, but they are treated as prescription medicine, so they need a doctor’s prescription to be legally obtained.
The government deems any CBD products that have high levels of THC illegal. This means they don’t qualify as a prescription medicine product.
How Do You Obtain CBD Oil In New Zealand Legally?
To obtain any medicinal cannabis product, you need to have a prescription from a registered doctor.
To get a prescription for medicinal cannabis products, you need to have a reason for it.
Doctors prescribe CBD for physical pains like joint pain or pain caused by an illness like cancer. You can also get a prescription if you have anxiety.
What Is CBD Oil Useful For in New Zealand?
CBD oil is beneficial for various pains like chronic pain, cancer pain, joint pain, back pain, etc. This is because CBD affects the cannabinoid receptors in your brain, numbing the pain.
Doctors also use it to combat anxiety disorders. You will need higher doses if the anxiety symptoms begin to return.
CBD can also assist with reducing appetite, which in turn helps with weight loss.
Can You Buy CBD Oil In A New Zealand Shop?
You cannot legally buy CBD products in a New Zealand shop. The only way to get CBD is to get a doctor to prescribe it. When they prescribe CBD oil, you can use it to combat pains and anxiety.
Any CBD Oil found in a physical shop or online is likely an illegal unprescribed product. If the THC level is too high, CBD can’t be deemed prescribed medicine.
Is Hemp Oil Different To CBD Oil?
Hemp oil is different to CBD oil because it contains no psychoactive cannabinoids. Hemp oil (or hemp seed oil) consists of healthy nutrients found in the cannabis plant.
You can use Hemp seed oil to maintain good health. It can improve your cardiovascular system, keep your skin healthy and offer you plenty of natural nutrients.