A million Kiwis want to try medicinal cannabis - survey

More than a million Kiwis are keen to try medicinal cannabis, according to a new survey.

With polls suggesting New Zealand will vote to legalise recreational use of the already popular drug, licensed medicinal cannabis developer Helius Therapeutics expects the market for its products to explode from 2020.

It commissioned a poll by Horizon Research to find out just how big the market could be, and was blown away by the results.

"Even if we just focus on those who would 'definitely' try accessing medicinal cannabis products, at 14 percent that represents phenomenal demand, set to be unleashed next year," said executive director Paul Manning.

Fourteen percent of adult Kiwis equates to more than 430,000 people. In addition to them, another 20 percent said they are 'most likely' or 'somewhat likely' to seek out medicinal cannabis. It's unclear what percentage would have a legitimate medical reason.

"We know most New Zealand doctors would be willing to prescribe medicinal cannabis products for many conditions, particularly chronic pain," said Manning.

"However, only a minority of doctors feel well enough informed. We know that healthcare professionals require more information before prescribing medicinal cannabis to patients, so we've got a lot of work to do."

Helius is planning to train doctors on medicinal cannabis use and prescription in July, the training headed by British neurologist Professor Michael Barnes.

The Government is presently working on its formal scheme, including the establishment of a medicinal cannabis agency and quality standards.

Recent research on cannabis attitudes by Horizon has found Kiwis are in favour of legalising it for recreatonal use, and most doctors and pharmacists have fielded requests for it.