The cannabis industry
New Zealand is one of the top users of cannabis. Over half of New Zealanders aged 15 to 45 have admitted to cannabis use. In fact, figures collected from the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime suggest New Zealand ranks third in the world in cannabis consumption.
Top cannabis nations. Source
In December 2018, New Zealand passed a law to allow medical cannabis throughout the country. However, how the country is going to move forward with this law is not exactly clear. Until recently, New Zealand has been strongly against the production and use of cannabis, and the police have often conducted raids on farms and suspected peddlers. So how will medical cannabis fit into the picture?
As of now, it seems the NZ government is looking forward. They are trying to figure out just how they are going to produce the cannabis, what the rules will be for obtaining medical cannabis, and many additional industry questions that they were not prepared to answer when the law went into effect.
Currently, they are in the process of securing options to better understand the cannabis industry and to research the points that were in question. These issues must be addressed for a full scale roll out of enough dispensaries to supply those in need of medical cannabis.
What is a cannabis dispensary?
Simply put, a cannabis dispensary is where you go to legally obtain cannabis. They can be labeled as recreational, medical, or both. The recreational dispensaries have a full line of cannabis and cannabis-related products to offer those who would like to pursue the recreational use of cannabis. Medical cannabis dispensaries, on the other hand, cater to those who seek cannabis for medicinal use, based on a prescription from a doctor who has been permitted to prescribe cannabis.
The dispensaries that sell both forms will sell to those who have a medical card and those who are looking to purchase recreationally. Typically, the medical prices in these dispensaries are lower than the price for the same product when purchased for recreational consumption. (This is almost always due to a difference in taxation on medicine and recreational cannabis.)
Why is cannabis so hard to come by in New Zealand?
In actuality, obtaining cannabis in New Zealand is simply not as hard as you might think. It’s the most widely used illegal drug in the country. However, trying to obtain the drug does present a number of challenges.
Unfortunately, these methods of distribution are mostly illegal, and the crimes associated with cannabis carry harsh penalties. In addition, despite its brand new legality for medical use, if you are a medical patient that fact doesn’t make everything better. The current cannabis industry is tough in New Zealand and there are not enough dispensaries for everyone.
The major reasons cannabis is so hard to come by legally in New Zealand?
- It is mostly grown by drug gangs, and thus distributed by them;
- Which leads to large-scale police crack-downs and raids; and
- The stigma is that cannabis causes “social harm in communities” and therefore is greatly monitored by locals;
- (For more information, look at Source Two: News Hub at the bottom of this article.)
Surprisingly, it’s easier to find harder drugs, such as meth, in New Zealand than cannabis. If you take a stroll through online comment boards, you’ll find most people unwilling to offer insight into finding weed, and reviewers like Marijuana Travelers state you must take what you get from the kids peddling on the streets.
So, as of right now, people are advised not to purchase or use cannabis in New Zealand, assuming you’re searching for an illegal source. Just for purchasing cannabis, you can spend months or even years in prison. The weight of the crime makes it difficult for outsiders to know where to look if they are attempting to obtain cannabis, but the consensus is that you should travel to places where cannabis is legal if that’s something you want to do while traveling.
How many registered doctors can prescribe cannabis now?
While there are many different registered doctors who can prescribe cannabis in New Zealand, it can be tricky to find them. Despite the new law, cannabis is still illegal, making it hard for prescriptions to be written or filled.
One helpful website is www.MarijuanaDoctors.com where they walk you through the criteria needed to get a prescription. This website can also be used as a starting research point for those who need to find a doctor in their area that’s able to prescribe medical cannabis.
For the best information and contacts on finding medical cannabis in New Zealand, refer to the government health website, Source Three at the end of this article.
What is the state of scientific research into cannabis in New Zealand?
In New Zealand, research is ongoing in the cannabis field. Some studies focus on the long-term effects of cannabis while others focus on the effects of cannabis on various physical and mental conditions.
One promising company is Helius Therapeutics, where research is done on both the medical and therapeutic effects of cannabis. The facility is located in Auckland and is currently one of the few companies publicly manufacturing cannabis in New Zealand.
Helius Therapeutics. Source
Do pharmacists stock cannabis now?
Cannabis is not carried at local pharmacies in New Zealand. Instead, cannabis is purchased through an expensive mail order system that is greatly monitored by the state. This is a high spending feat not feasible for most patients who need these types of medications. This has led many medical patients to seek out their medication on the street, which, if caught, could land the patient in jail for up to one year or see them fined up to $1,000.
What will happen in the future when it comes to cannabis dispensaries?
With the law passing in December of 2018, coming years should see an increase in dispensaries throughout New Zealand. The subject now is not whether they are allowed, but figuring out how to fit them into the current laws.
Inevitably, this could take months or even years.
No one can be certain how fast the government will move on cannabis laws, or how long it will be before they allow dispensaries to begin operations. Until then, patients will have to keep in close contact with their doctors or keep a watchful eye on the New Zealand Drug Foundation.
Final word -- will New Zealand ever allow dispensaries?
Over time, yes, New Zealand will likely allow dispensaries, given that medical cannabis is now legal, and perhaps even recreational cannabis will be legal soon. There is a large market for cannabis and a big profit can be made, especially considering the substance is so widely used.
Eventually, New Zealand will want to maximize the benefits of medical cannabis on their economic industry, and they will start to allow the establishment of more dispensaries. However, to date, nothing has really been decided on this subject and it is something that will continue to be debated in the courts and government before a decision can be made.
For more information, refer to our Sources:
- Source One: https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3549289/Country-highest-rate-marijuana-smokers-revealed-ICELAND-Jamaica-coming-surprising-19th-place.html_