NEWS BRIEF

New Zealand seeks proposals to educate doctors on medical cannabis

The New Zealand government has issued a request for proposals to provide the nation’s physicians with a primer on medical marijuana and its use as a medicine.

The government hopes the resulting educational publication, or resource, will provide health practitioners with a starting point to understand cannabis and its medical uses.

Improved doctor education is considered an important step for the local market, including businesses, to reach their potential.

New Zealand launched its Medicinal Cannabis Scheme earlier this year.

The Ministry of Health said the resource will provide health practitioners with basic information on cannabis by filling a gap for doctors who do not have the information they need to make effective clinical decisions.

“This resource will aim to fill that gap by providing a factual and objective primer on medicinal cannabis,” according to the RFP.

The total funding available for the project is 50,000 New Zealand dollars ($33,300).

The new publication is not intended to provide clinical guidance.

A group representing organizations in the medical marijuana sector welcomed the proposal, but suggested it does not go far enough.

“Industry understands and respects health practitioner independence and does not want to create the impression of any improper influence, but in this fast-moving research space many prescribers do not have appropriate information and education on cannabis- based medicines,” Sally King, executive director of New Zealand Medicinal Cannabis Council (NZMCC), told Marijuana Business Daily.

She said the industry wants to share what has been learned about medical cannabis “within appropriate parameters,” but businesses can only respond to unsolicited information requests from health practitioners and take part in science conferences.

She said: “It’s a wicked catch-22, and a huge barrier for health practitioners.”

“What NZMCC are really hoping for is some latitude to support health practitioners with the latest scientific information, continued medical research, education and training.”

Zoe Reece, founder and CEO of local cannabis firm Ora Pharm, said the resulting publication will help doctors understand how medical cannabis works.

“However there is uncertainty on when the development of clinical guidelines will take place,” she said.

“Education without a clear clinical prescribing guideline may inhibit medical professionals from prescribing medicinal cannabis and may contribute to a slow uptake of the product by the New Zealand public.”

“Irrespectively this is a great step forward to help grow the industry and understanding of medicinal cannabis through educating medical professionals.”

The deadline to submit a proposal is Nov. 13, 2020.

Read the full RFP here.

Matt Lamers is Marijuana Business Daily’s international editor, based near Toronto. He can be reached at [email protected].

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