Is cannabis an herbal remedy under the Medicines Act 1981?

A herbal remedy is a special sub-category of medicine, defined in Section 2 of the Medicines Act 1981 as follows:

herbal remedy means a medicine (not being or containing a prescription medicine, or a restricted medicine, or a pharmacy-only medicine) consisting of—
(a) any substance produced by subjecting a plant to drying, crushing, or any other similar process; or
(b) a mixture comprising 2 or more such substances only; or
(c) a mixture comprising 1 or more such substances with water or ethyl alcohol or any inert substance

Thus a herbal remedy is a medicine that does not contain a prescription, restricted or pharmacy-only medicine, and consists of a substance derived from plant material that has been dried or crushed (or derived through any other similar process). It may also be an aqueous or alcoholic extract of the dried or crushed plant material, or a mixture of that material with another inert substance.

Ministerial consent is not required for the distribution of a herbal remedy which is sold or supplied without any recommendation as to its use and the labelling complies with the requirements of Section 28 of the Act, whereas Ministerial consent is required for the distribution of a herbal remedy which is sold with a recommendation for use for a therapeutic purpose.

Because cannabis contains CBD and THC, both of which are listed in Schedule 1 of the Medicines Regulations 1984 as prescription medicines, cannabis could not be considered an herbal remedy in terms of NZ law.




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