Extra sufferers ask for medicinal hashish, however GPs shy on prescribing

Medicinal hashish is authorized for extra Kiwis than ever however good luck discovering a physician who will prescribed it.

Analysis printed within the New Zealand Medical Journal on Friday exhibits greater than half of New Zealand GPs surveyed stated they’d been requested by sufferers for a medicinal hashish prescriptions up to now yr. 

Nevertheless, of 76 GPs surveyed solely eight had managed to get their sufferers entry to medicinal hashish and the bulk expressed considerations about prescribing sooner or later.

Individually, GPs advised Stuff requests from sufferers for medicinal hashish had been on the rise, amid loosening legal guidelines and a looming referendum on leisure use later this yr.

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GPs’ high considerations about prescribing hashish included poor proof, convoluted rules, and prohibitive prices for permitted cannabis-based drugs. 

Decrease Hutt GP Larry Jordan, who was not a part of the research, advised Stuff his sufferers had been more and more asking about medical hashish, however so far he had declined to prescribe.

A new study has found most GPs are reluctant to prescribe cannabis-based medicine, such as Sativex (pictured), because of concerns about cost and lack of evidence.


A brand new research has discovered most GPs are reluctant to prescribe cannabis-based drugs, corresponding to Sativex (pictured), due to considerations about price and lack of proof.

In most cases, folks wished to be handled for continual ache or insomnia, two areas the place Dr Jordan stated the proof was not there but.

“I believe the current media publicity has prompted folks to assume extra about it,” he stated.

“I am not a part of the group [of GPs] that stated I might by no means do it. But when I will get entangled, I’ve some studying to do.”

A few of his sufferers had advised him they had been self-medicating with illicit hashish, he stated.

“I say, simply pay attention to the well being dangers however I am not going to freak out and inform them to cease.”

Porirua GP and Royal School of GPs medical director Dr Bryan Betty stated his sufferers had additionally been asking about hashish, however he had not prescribed partly due to the excessive price and partly due to a scarcity of proof that the drug was an efficient therapy.

“It’s all just a little bit up within the air for the time being.”

Some of the cannabis products that could be manufactured in New Zealand under new regulations.


Among the hashish merchandise that may very well be manufactured in New Zealand beneath new rules.

Medical doctors’ reluctance to prescribe the drug comes regardless of legislation modifications in 2018 that partially decriminalised the usage of medicinal hashish.

One public survey final yr, commissioned by medicinal hashish firm Helius, claimed 400,000 Kiwis would to hurry to amass a prescription when the medication grew to become broadly obtainable this yr.

Dr Betty stated that determine was overblown and numbers of prescriptions would possible be small till there was each clearer medical proof and massive value drop.

“Particular person GPs should decide based mostly on the affected person in entrance of them, however there’s absolute want for extra high quality analysis into cabbanoids.”

Research lead creator Dr Karen Oldfield, from Medical Analysis Institute of New Zealand, stated many GPs within the research reported feeling nervous in regards to the responsibiliy of prescribing a drug with little proof.

“Usually while you prescribe drugs, what’s in it, it has been by way of medical trial. It is fairly tough to prescribe one thing the place you do not have that.”

Nevertheless, not all GPs wer so reticent.

Dr Graham Gulbransen has been working a medicinal hashish prescribing centre in Auckland since early 2018, and even affords sufferers assessments by way of video. Dr Gulbransen mostly prescribed CBD, a cannabis-based drugs that doesn’t produce a “excessive” however can relieve ache or scale back nervousness.

GP Graham Gulbransen runs a medicinal cannabis clinic in Auckland


GP Graham Gulbransen runs a medicinal hashish clinic in Auckland

Since opening, he had prescribed medicinal hashish for greater than 1000 sufferers, lots of whom got here to him after being turned downed by their common GP. 

“Affected person come to me and say they did not need to elevate it with their docs as a result of they had been too conservative, or they did and was advised it was unlawful.”

Most GP had been chronically overworked and had merely not taken the time to evaluate the analysis but, he stated.

Medicinal cannabis user Nichola Smith quit a job as a police nurse so she could use the medication.


Medicinal hashish person Nichola Smith give up a job as a police nurse so she may use the medicine.

Nichola Smith, of Taranaki, stated she began self-medicating with illicit hashish about three years in the past after her GP declined to prescribe a authorized model on the idea that it may trigger psychosis. 

Smith stated the hashish had changed extra 20 ache medicines, together with heavy opiates, that she had beforehand used to handle ache related along with her uncommon degenerative musculocontractural​ Ehlers-Danlos syndrome.

“I’ve needed to base my complete high quality of life on drug that’s unlawful, on a drug the place I can not assure provide.”


  • 55 per cent of GPs surveyed stated had been requested by sufferers about prescribing medicinal hashish, mostly for managing ache, palliative care or most cancers.
  • 11 per cent of GPs stated they’d sufferers with medicinal hashish prescriptions
  • A 3rd of GPs who had been requested to by sufferers for prescriptions tried to acquire one, however about half had been unsuccessful, falling to acquire authorities approval.
  • 79 per cent of GPs stated they’d “considerations” about prescribing medicinal hashish
  • Nevertheless, 84 per cent stated they might in all probability prescribe sooner or later if the medication publicly funded and backed by good proof.

Supply: New Zealand Medical Journal, based mostly on interviews and surveys of 76 New Zealand GPs


Restrictions of medicinal hashish have loosened in the three previous years, with the Authorities looking for to pave the best way for a homegrown medicinal hashish trade to deal with Kiwi sufferers.

  • In September 2017, the Authorities lifted restrictions on the drug CBD, permitting GPs to prescribe the medicinal hashish product with out looking for Ministry of Well being permission. CBD has no THC, the compound that produces the hashish “excessive”, however has been used to deal with continual ache. The one different hashish product that may be prescribed with out approval is Sativex, however solely in very slim circumstances. None are funded publicly and all different medicinal makes use of of hashish require Ministry sign-off.
  • In December 2018, a legislation change handed gave sufferers near loss of life a defence towards prosecution for possession of illicit hashish.
  • The legislation change additionally paved the best way for a regulated medicinal hashish trade in New Zealand, with licences to be issued by a brand new medicinal hashish company to producers from April 1 this yr.  This could pave method for sufferers accessing extra medicinal hashish merchandise, offering they meet a brand new high quality normal.
  • In late 2020, in all probability November, a referendum shall be held on legalising the recreations use of hashish.