Major barriers still expected as cannabis restrictions loosen

From Thursday restrictions on cannabis-based medicines will be lifted, but that doesn't mean they'll be readily available.

One user told Newshub there will still be major barriers around cost and supply.

Academic Peta Wellstead has two types of an autoimmune disease. She says conventional medicines give her nasty side effects

"Anxiety-type issues, steroids are horrible things, biologicals increased my rates of infection, I put on weight," she told Newshub.

She lives in Canada for four months of the year, where cannabis for medical purposes is legal.

"When I go to Canada, I can buy CBD-rich cannabis for $2 a capsule and I had considerable success taking it," Ms Wellstead said.

She says access in New Zealand needs to be just as just as easy.

"Currently there's Sativex, which is essentially two strains of hash oil in a spray can, and it costs $1200 a month."

Changes to legislation which come into effect on Thursday are designed to ease restrictions on cannabidiol.

"The change tomorrow is to make it more easily available to consumers, the problem will still be available products though," Health Minister Peter Dunne told Newshub.

And the cost will be borne by the consumer.

"No application for funding any products that contain cannabidiol has yet demonstrated... that it is the next best use of [public] funds available for medicines," Pharmac said.

So how effective is cannabis-based medicine?

"Cannabis based medicines are likely to be beneficial in cases involving spasticity, nausea, quite possibly pain relief," Mr Dunne said.

But Ms Wellstead says the changes don't go far enough.

"People presume people who take medical cannabis are stoners, we're not, we're just people who want to be well," she said.

Mr Dunne says the Government's gone as far as it can until more tested, safe and reliable products come onto the market.