CBD products

The passing of the Misuse of Drugs (Medicinal Cannabis) Amendment Act means some products containing cannabidiol (CBD) are now prescription medicines only.

Key points

  • Products that meet the definition of a CBD product (see below) are prescription medicines
  • Ministry of Health approval is not required to prescribe, supply or administer products for medical purposes if they meet the definition of a CBD product
  • Authorised prescribers and pharmacies are allowed to import CBD products, as are persons or companies holding a licence to sell medicines by wholesale See Importing of CBD Products into New Zealand for more information.
  • Individual patients may import CBD products provided they meet the requirements for importing prescription medicines (see below) but not any other cannabis based products
  • A maximum of three months’ supply is allowed on a prescription for CBD products.

Cannabidiol (CBD)

CBD is a substance found in cannabis that has potential therapeutic value, with little or no psychoactive properties.

Cannabidiol (CBD) is no longer a class B1 controlled drug under the Misuse of Drugs Act 1975. It is a prescription medicine under the Medicines Act 1981.

As with all prescription medicines, patients must have a prescription from an authorised prescriber to import or use CBD products. If you are interested in using CBD for a medical purpose, please talk to your doctor.

CBD products

CBD is no longer a controlled drug. In addition, to increase access to CBD products, while minimising risks, a small amount of tetrahydrocannabinols and other psychoactive related substances are now permitted as contaminants in CBD products. In CBD products, the amount of tetrahydrocannabinols and psychoactive related substances must not exceed 2 percent of the total CBD tetrahydrocannabinol and psychoactive related substances content in the product.

This change to the control of CBD products is in response to advice the Government received from the Expert Advisory Committee on Drugs. It is important to note that medicinal cannabis products such as Sativex are not CBD products (refer Prescribing cannabis-based products).

Further information on prescribing medicinal cannabis and CBD products can be found on Prescribing cannabis-based products.

Bringing CBD products into New Zealand

No individual may leave or enter New Zealand with illicit cannabis, even if they have been diagnosed by a medical or nurse practitioner as requiring palliation. You can travel with 1 months’ supply of controlled drugs (eg, Sativex) or 3 months’ supply of prescription medicines (eg CBD products) provided you are able to show they have been lawfully supplied to you.

For further information on bringing medicines containing controlled drugs (eg Sativex) into New Zealand read Bringing medicines into New Zealand.

Importing of CBD Products into New Zealand by Patients, Pharmacies, Medical Practitioners and Wholesalers

Patients may import up to three months’ supply of a CBD product into New Zealand if they have a reasonable excuse, that is, an original letter or an original prescription from a New Zealand authorised prescriber. An import licence is not required but please note that the points 1, 2 and 3 listed below also apply to imports by patients.

For further information on bringing medicines (eg CBD products) into New Zealand, refer to Medsafe’s website:

Pharmacies, authorised prescribers and licensed wholesalers of medicines are able to import CBD products, and are not required to have an import licence under the Misuse of Drugs Act.

Please note:

  • some overseas countries require an licence to export CBD products eg Australia and Canada,
  • some countries prohibit the export of CBD products eg the United States,
  • many products listed on websites as CBD products do not meet the New Zealand definition as the THC content is too high. These products are controlled drugs and cannot be legally imported into New Zealand without a licence to import a controlled drug issued by Medicines Control at the Ministry of Health and a licence to export from the exporting country,
  • CBD products are all non-consented medicines and can only be imported by authorised prescribers for a particular patient under their care or by pharmacists pursuant to a prescription for a particular patient,
  • non-consented medicines cannot be advertised,
  • wholesalers and pharmacists must complete reporting requirements to Medsafe as required by section 29 of the Medicines Act 1981. 

There is a limited range of CBD products available

While the intent is to make it easier to access CBD products, there is currently a limited range of CBD products available in New Zealand. None of the products currently available have consent for distribution in New Zealand. Strict export restrictions on products sourced from some other countries will continue to impact the supply of CBD products in New Zealand. The range of products available in New Zealand is expected to increase once domestic cultivation and manufacture of medicinal cannabis products is enabled and established.

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