Helius Therapeutics’ billboard in Auckland’s Anzac Ave advertises cannabis as medicine.
Medsafe is «looking into» New Zealand’s first cannabis advertising campaign.
The Advertising Standards Authority received several complaints this week after a billboard advertising cannabis as medicine was erected on Auckland’s Anzac Ave.
Helius Therapeutics, a licensed medicinal cannabis company, launched the billboards following last week’s legalisation of medicinal cannabis manufacture, to «rebrand» cannabis.
A spokesman for Medsafe, the regulator for medicines and medical devices, said it was not correct to say that all cannabis is medicine.
«Sativex is the only cannabinoid product approved by Medsafe in New Zealand…Medsafe is aware of this campaign and is looking into it.»
Paul Manning, Helius’ executive director, said the campaign was designed to heighten awareness and remove the stigma of using cannabis for medicinal reasons.
With regard to the complaints, Manning said it was a «stretch» to suggest that a billboard was going to encourage children to start smoking.
Paul Manning, executive director of Helius, said that the campaign was designed to heighten awareness and remove the stigma of using cannabis for medicinal reasons.
«The truth is, it will be everyday people who use medicinal cannabis, which will soon become a very mainstream product.»
Helius has no products to sell yet because the regulations are still being drawn up, so Manning said the company’s current focus was on research and education.
Medsafe said it was important to remember the Government’s medical cannabis scheme was designed to increase availability of quality medicinal cannabis products, rather than make all cannabis available.
«The changes are expected to improve access to cannabis for people receiving palliative care,
«The Bill includes compassionate measures for those who are receiving palliative care; a regulation-making power to enable quality standards to be set for medicinal cannabis products available on prescription; and descheduling cannabidiol as a controlled drug.
«Enabling domestic cultivation and manufacture could make quality medicinal cannabis products more readily available. This will remove a barrier for patients accessing medicinal cannabis, as health practitioners will be able to prescribe these products with confidence.
«The Ministry of Health is currently leading work to develop a scheme that will enable domestic commercial cultivation and manufacture of medicinal cannabis made to a quality standard on prescription.»
The Ministry still has to consult on the regulations, licensing rules and quality standards which medicinal cannabis manufacturers would have to meet. Helius expects to have products available to patients by 2020.