Overview of the New Zealand Cannabis Market

According to the health ministry, 11% of New Zealanders use cannabis at least once a year and 44% of those people report using it for medicinal purposes.

Official statistics from Auckland University’s Alcohol and Public Health Research Unit show half of New Zealanders aged 15-65 have tried cannabis, and one-in-six define themselves as regular users. That’s about 1.5 million ordinary Kiwis who have ignored the law and tried cannabis, and around 400,000 who continue to use it.

The Oceania market is set to quadruple in the next 10 years and with an overall population of 40 million, and comprising over 30 countries, this is a large and strategic market for Cannabis. Australia and New Zealand account for over 75% of the region.

It is also a market that already displays significant usage. The latest report from Prohibition Partners, notes a usage rate of between 9% and 16% for users aged 16-64 years, across the region. This is significantly higher than the Global Average of around 3% for the same demographic.

It is estimated that by 2028, the region will be worth $8.7 billion. $6.2 billion of this will be recreational sales (with the estimates based on only 7% of the population using for recreational purposes).

New Zealand could well be the “legal leaders” of the Oceanic Region. In the recent Federal Elections, the Labor Party and the Green Party formed a coalition, and in doing so took control of the government.

In return for their support, the Green Party made the Liberal Party promise to have a binding referendum on whether Cannabis should be completely legalised, by 2020.

Recreational Marijuana is currently illegal under New Zealand law. This referendum could mean a fully legalized and regulated market in New Zealand by 2021. Reference

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 authorized 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.


Companies active in the New Zealand Medical Cannabis Industry