Growing and producing medicinal cannabis products

Information about growing, extracting and manufacturing cannabis for therapeutic use.

In New Zealand cannabis for therapeutic use can only be cultivated and produced for scientific research or clinical trials at this time. Under the Misuse of Drugs Act all stages of cultivation and production require a licence. Information about the Government’s proposed changes can be found on the The Misuse of Drugs (Medicinal Cannabis) Amendment Bill.

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If you are undertaking one or more activities, you will need to read the relevant sections below as you may need multiple licences. A breakdown of activities that each licence can permit can be found on the Licences for medicinal cannabis growers, suppliers and producers page.

Growing cannabis including low THC cannabis (hemp) for clincal trials

A cannabis/hemp grower looking to supply a manufacturer or processor with cannabis, to produce a cannabis-product for clinical trials needs:

  • a licence to cultivate a prohibited plant
  • information/licence number for the person or business being supplied. You may only supply to a licensed person and only supply licensees specified on your licence.

Applications will be considered on a case-by-case basis. If you do not have details of who your product will be supplied to, or that person does not yet have the appropriate licences, you may have a condition on the licence that product cannot be supplied. This can be updated as more information becomes available.

Contact the Controlled Drugs Advisor for Medicines Control (medicinescontrol@moh.govt.nz) if you wish to add another licensee for supply.

Extracting from or processing cannabis plants

A processor looking to extract oil/resin or specific cannabinoids needs:

  • a licence to deal in controlled drugs
  • a licence to manufacture medicines*
  • licence information/number of grower/supplier
  • licence information/number of who the substance will be supplied to. You may only supply to a licensed person and only supply licensees specified on your licence.

Applications will be considered on a case-by-case basis. If you do not have details of who your product will be supplied to, or that person does not yet have the appropriate licences, you may have a condition on the licence that product cannot be supplied. This can be updated as more information becomes available. Contact the Controlled Drugs Advisor for Medicines Control (medicinescontrol@moh.govt.nz) if you wish to add another licensee for supply.

*If your cannabis extract or processed cannabis is to be used to manufacture a product which meets the definition of a medicine under the Medicines Act 1981, you will need a Licence to manufacture medicines. (For information on how to apply for a licence to manufacture medicines please contact Medsafe at gmp@moh.govt.nz). This licence is required for products produced for domestic or export markets. If your cannabis extract is used for scientific research, a licence to manufacture medicines will not be required.

Manufacturing medicinal cannabis products

Currently cannabis for therapeutic use can only be produced for scientific research or clinical trials in New Zealand. Read more about the Government’s proposed changes to allow medicinal cannabis products to be produced for commercial sale:

A manufacturer looking to manufacture medicines needs:

  • a licence to deal in controlled drugs.
  • licence to manufacture medicines (For information on how to apply for a licence to manufacture medicines please contact Medsafe at gmp@moh.govt.nz). This licence is required for products produced for domestic or export markets.
  • licence information/number of supplier of plant material or extract
  • information on clinical trials or research that product will be supplied for (including clinical trial application approval from Medsafe). Under current legislation, manufactured product has to be for scientific research or clinical trials.

Applications will be considered on a case by case basis. If you do not have details of who your product will be supplied to, or that person does not yet have the appropriate licences, you may have a condition on the licence that product cannot be supplied. This can be updated as more information becomes available. Contact the Controlled Drugs Advisor for Medicines Control if you wish to add another licensee for supply.

Importing cannabis or medicinal cannabis products

An importer looking to import cannabis for supply needs:

  • a licence to import controlled drugs, unless the import meets the definition of a CBD product under the Misuse of Drugs Regulations 1977. A separate licence to import is required for each consignment
  • a licence to deal in controlled drugs or a licence to cultivate a prohibited plant
  • information on the medical practitioner or the licence number of the organisation to whom the product will be supplied. You may only supply to a licensed person or medical practitioner and only supply licensees specified on your licence.

Applications will be considered on a case by case basis. If you do not have details of who your product will be supplied to, or that person does not yet have the appropriate licences, you may have a condition on the licence that product cannot be supplied. This can be updated as more information becomes available. Contact the Controlled Drugs Advisor for Medicines Control (medicinescontrol@moh.govt.nz) if you wish to add another licensee for supply.

Exporting cannabis or medicinal cannabis products

An exporter looking to export plant/oil/product needs:

  • a licence to deal in controlled drugs or a licence to cultivate a prohibited plant
  • a licence to export controlled drugs

Note that currently export will only be allowed for research or clinical trials and licences will only be issued if the importing country has issued a valid licence to import the product.

Clinical trials for medicinal cannabis products

Before undertaking clinical trials for medicinal cannabis products, you will require:

  • a licence to deal in controlled drugs (if the clinical trial is not under the direct control of a medical practitioner)
  • documentation demonstrating that the product was manufactured under a licence to manufacture medicines or a Good Manufacturing Practice certificate
  • ethics approval for your proposed clinical trial
  • clinical trial approval from Medsafe.

Information on clinical trials can be found on the Medsafe website. All clinical trials in New Zealand are expected to be conducted in accordance with internationally accepted Good Clinical Practice standards.

Growing industrial hemp for non-therapeutic purposes

Industrial hemp growers supplying product for purposes allowed by the Misuse of Drugs (Industrial Hemp) Regulations 2006 need to comply with those Regulations. Industrial hemp or industrial hemp products, cultivated pursuant to a licence issued under these Regulations, cannot be supplied to any person for therapeutic use or for the purpose of creating a therapeutic product. More information can be found on the Industrial hemp page.

Growing cannabis or producing cannabis products for scientific research

Examples of growing cannabis or producing cannabis products for scientific research could include:

  • growing cannabis to test cannabinoid levels under different cultivation conditions
  • testing different methods of extraction of cannabis
  • in-vitro testing of cannabis products
Note that no cannabis grown or cannabis products produced for scientific research purposes can be provided to a person for any purpose.

Licences required:

  • licence to deal in controlled drugs
  • licence to import controlled drugs (if importing product)
  • licence to cultivate a prohibited plant (if growing yourself)

Licences to deal in controlled drugs and to cultivate prohibited plants require registers to be kept for incoming and outgoing product and these registers must be supplied to the Ministry by 31 January annually, unless the product meets the definition of a CBD product in the Misuse of Drugs Regulations 1975.

See a breakdown of what licences permit:

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