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Since 1 April 2020 it has been legal for patients to access medicinal cannabis if they have a prescription from their doctor.

Despite the role of cannabinoids in medicine being widely accepted in the management of seizures and chronic pain, such as the approved medication Sativex® which is a pure cannabis plant derivative, there are many New Zealand doctors who are hesitant or unequipped to prescribe medicinal cannabis.

“Globally, we are starting to see patients are presenting to their doctors with better medical knowledge of the standalone or adjunctive use of cannabinoids in a range of conditions such as tourettes, anxiety, insomnia, palliative care and migraines than the doctors have themselves,” said Dr Dave Hepburn, MD and a keynote speaker at MedCan 2022.

Dr David Hepburn
Dr David Hepburn

A study published in The New Zealand Medical Journal in 2020 reported that more than half of the 76 New Zealand General Practitioners surveyed had patients ask about medicinal cannabis prescriptions in the past 12 months. However, 79 percent of the GPs expressed concerns about prescribing medical cannabis due to lack of understanding around the legislative, evidential and practical elements of prescribing cannabis as a medicine.

With the transition period for medicinal cannabis products that have not been verified as meeting the minimum quality standard ending on 30 September 2021, there have been more changes to how certain products can be prescribed and dispensed to patients. These recent changes can make it even harder for health professionals to navigate the current medicinal cannabis landscape.

MedCan 2022, New Zealand’s largest medicinal cannabis Summit, is designed to educate healthcare professionals about the benefits of medicinal cannabis and to ensure prescribers are up-to-date with the current New Zealand regulatory environment.

The one-day Healthcare Professionals Forum on 11 February, running as part of MedCan 2022, gives medical professionals the opportunity to learn from international and national experts about the endocannabinoid system, clinical data, and the applications and prescribing of medicinal cannabis in a medical practice.

Attendance at the one day Health Professionals’ Forum will earn GPs up to 11.25 CME credits for Continuing Professional Development purposes from the The Royal New Zealand College of General Practitioners. It has also been endorsed by The Pharmaceutical Society of New Zealand and is suitable for pharmacist’s continuing education.

MedCan Summit 2022 is taking place on 10 and 11 February 2022, with the one day Health Professionals’ Forum happening on 11 February. The event will be held in-person at the Cordis in Auckland, with virtual access available. See the programme here.

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