• October 17, 2019
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  • MedCan 2020: New Zealand set to have its first medicinal cannabis summit

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    New Zealand’s first medicinal cannabis summit will take place next year in Auckland.

    The summit, called MedCan 2020, is open to everyone and people will learn about medicinal cannabis from local and international health professionals, academics, researchers and patients.

    A summit advisory group with representatives from the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment, and crown entity Callaghan Innovation had been set up for the event.

    Organised by biotechnology company BIOTechNZ, MedCan 2020 will take place on March 19 at the SkyCity Auckland Convention Centre.

    BIOTechNZ executive director, Zahra Champion, said the summit would give industry stakeholders the opportunity to learn about the cannabis business, world markets, technologies and international research.

    Medicinal cannabis is attracting major investment in New Zealand and will create new skills, so knowledge and collaboration are critical,” Champion said.

    “Cannabis-based medicines have extraordinary potential to improve people’s quality of life, as well as fuel economic growth, and contribute hundreds of millions of dollars to the country’s export earnings.”

    The summit’s foundation sponsor is medicinal cannabis company Helius Therapeutics.

    Its chief executive, Paul Manning, said the event would help launch and inspire the new industry.​

    In December 2018, the Government passed its medicinal cannabis bill.

    The bill was passed with the support of Labour, the Greens and NZ First.

    It set up a statutory defence which allowed those close to death in palliative care to consume illicit marijuana with a legal defence if prosecuted. This was intended as a bridging mechanism until the full Medicinal Cannabis Scheme was set up.

    The scheme would likely make the process more simple by doing things such as allowing pharmacies to sell regulated marijuana products and doctors could prescribe medicinal cannabis.

    At the time, Health Minister David Clark said he was “delighted” after the bill had been passed.

    “This is the most progressive legislation on medicinal cannabis that has ever passed through the Parliament,” Clark said.

    “We’re doing things to make sure supply will be more available and more affordable over time, and we’re taking a compassionate measure in the meantime to give a defence to those to use illicit cannabis who are in the final stages of life.”

    According to the Ministry of Health, New Zealand’s Medicinal Cannabis Scheme is set to be operational in the first quarter of 2020, with regulations made by December this year.

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