Medicinal Cannabis Agency - Background information

This section contains information about how the Medicinal Cannabis Scheme was developed, including the timeline and key documents.

On this page:


  • October 2017: Government announces commitment to making medicinal cannabis available for people with terminal illness or chronic pain.
  • 13 December 2017: Cabinet approves the introduction of a Misuse of Drugs (Medicinal Cannabis) Amendment Bill.
  • 20 December 2017: Bill tabled in Parliament. Read the Health Minister's media release (Beehive website).
  • 30 January 2018: Bill read for the first time and referred to the Health Committee.
  • 25 July 2018: Health Committee reports back to the House, having received 1,786 written submissions and heard 158 oral submissions. The Committee was unable to reach agreement and therefore could not recommend that the Bill proceed.
  • 29 November 2018: Bill read in the House (unchanged) for the second time.
  • 4 December 2018. Government tables Supplementary Order Paper (SOP) to amend Bill.
  • 11 December 2018: Bill, as amended by SOP, passes its third and final reading.
  • 18 December 2018: Misuse of Drugs (Medicinal Cannabis) Amendment Act 2018 comes into force.
  • 10 July 2019: Public consultation document released on Medicinal Cannabis Scheme
  • 16 December 2019: Misuse of Drugs (Medicinal Cannabis) Regulations 2019 made under Order in Council.
  • 1 April 2020: Regulations come into force and Medicinal Cannabis Scheme commences.

Key documents

Medicinal Cannabis 100 Day Plan

Misuse of Drugs Amendment Bill Introduction and First Reading

Select Committee consideration

Misuse of Drugs Amendment Bill Second Reading

Supplementary Order Paper

Misuse of Drugs Amendment Bill Third Reading

Stakeholder workshops

During February and March 2020, the Ministry of Health held workshops with industry and Māori stakeholders in Whangarei, Auckland, Gisborne, Rotorua, Wellington, Nelson and Christchurch.

The purpose of the workshops was to explain the Medicinal Cannabis Scheme, provide relevant information to help stakeholders prepare quality applications, and answer any queries.

There was a high level of interest in the workshops, with 768 people across the country registering to attend. Around one-third were Māori stakeholders and around two-thirds were general industry stakeholders.

Copies of the workshop presentations are available below.

If you are unable to access any of the presentations, please contact us at [email protected].

Medicinal Cannabis Advisory Group

In December 2018, Cabinet agreed that the Minister of Health appoint a Medicinal Cannabis Oversight Panel to oversee the establishment and implementation of the Medicinal Cannabis Scheme. The Oversight Panel was established as the Medicinal Cannabis Advisory Group.

The following table provides information about the membership and expertise of the Advisory Group.

Member Expertise

Dr Russell Wills

Medical expertise – Medical Director, Quality Improvement and Patient Safety, Hawke’s Bay District Health Board (HBDHB); General and Community Paediatrician, HBDHB

Suzanna Barber

Pharmacist – Registered pharmacist; Systems Manager of the Pharmacy Service at Middlemore Hospital

Dr David Burrell

Primary care physician – General Practitioner with special interest in pain management

Manu Caddie

Medicinal cannabis cultivation and manufacturing industry – Managing Director of Hikurangi Cannabis Company; President of New Zealand Medical Cannabis Council

Tara Creaven-Capasso

Regulatory expertise – specialist in medicinal cannabis compliance

Dr Brian Ensor

Palliative care specialist – Medical Director for Hospice Waikato

Professor Michelle Glass

Medicinal cannabis researcher – Head of the Department of Pharmacology and Toxicology at the University of Otago; Chair of the Medicinal Cannabis Research Collaborative

Judy Leader

Nurse Practitioner - involved in establishing and leading the acute pain service at MidCentral Health

Kali Mercier

Policy – Policy and Advocacy Manager at New Zealand Drug Foundation

Rebecca Reider

Consumer representative

Dr Cynthia Sharpe

Medical expertise - Paediatric Neurologist at Starship Hospital

Simon Royal

Māori health expert - Chief Executive of the National Hauora Coalition

Meeting minutes

The Advisory Group met on 29 April 2019, 14 May 2019, 13 June 2019 and 4 September 2019. Copies of the meeting minutes are available below.

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