Select Committee presentation on medicinal cannabis

College news
04 April 2018

Today College President Dr Tim Malloy and Medical Director Dr Richard Medlicott, accompanied by Chief Executive Helen Morgan-Banda, addressed the Health Select Committee in relation to the College’s submission on the Misuse of Drugs (Medicinal Cannabis) Amendment Bill.

The morning’s presentations were broadcast using Facebook Live streaming, which you can see here [see 2.13 hours in].

Tim opened the College’s presentation by reiterating that GPs are compassionate, and want to provide the best possible care for their patients.

He went on to emphasise the three main points raised in our written submission; a general misunderstanding of cannabis products; that GPs will support Medsafe-approved cannabis products; and that the College advocates for health equity for all New Zealanders.

“The way ‘medicinal’ cannabis is talked about is confusing and unhelpful,” said Tim.

“Medicinal cannabis must go through clinical trials and be approved by Medsafe. Other forms of cannabis products that are used therapeutically (for example, cannabis oils, balms or, for some people, smoking) can have little in the way of quality controls and have other health risks.

“Medsafe approval means the products are proven, have a clinical benefit, have been tested, and are of a known quality.”

Following Tim’s comments, the Select Committee members Louisa Wall, Shane Reti, Nicky Wagner and Matt Doocey asked a number of questions relating to how GPs might gauge chronic pain, form a prognosis of a terminally ill patient, what the benefits might be to patients, and whether members had concerns around coercion.

Tim and Richard were challenged about whether GPs were open minded towards medicinal cannabis, and Richard reiterated doctors want to know what they’re prescribing, and that they respond to the products that are available.

Tim said GPs would need guidance in relation to any future use of legalised medicinal cannabis.

Dr Tim Malloy, College President and Dr Richard Medlicott, College Medical Director