New Zealand doctors want the power to prescribe medicinal cannabis

The Government has committed to improving access to quality medicinal cannabis products, and the Ministry of Health is consulting on regulations in the area. 

The Government's assurance has prompted a local company to fund a visit by an expert in prescribing the drug.   

"A lot of people are enthusiastic in theory, but won't prescribe in practice, because they don't understand the dose or what format to give it in. A lot of the reluctance is in education, and that's correctable," says neurologist Dr Mike Barnes.

General practitioners say an increasing number of patients are enquiring about medicinal cannabis products, but there are very few objective medical resources for them to turn to.

"A lot of them know about it just through the internet, through Google. And a lot of them come up to me and say, 'Hey Doc, would you prescribe me some of this, some of that'," Dr Mark Hotu told Newshub.

"I wanted to have a few more answers to give to my patients about the ins and outs of it and whether it would be something they potentially could use for their own conditions," says Dr Nikki Retford.

Currently, GPs need signoff from a specialist and the Ministry of Health to prescribe certain patients with approved medicinal cannabis products.

The Ministry is proposing their involvement is dropped from that equation, but some GPs want more power to prescribe.

"To be honest I think we should be able to sign everything off," says Dr Hotu.

"I would often get advice if I was unsure, from a specialist, but I perhaps would like the option to be able to prescribe it myself," Dr Retford agrees.

Neurologist Dr Mike Barnes also agrees.

"Cannabis is a very useful symptomatic treatment for conditions that go to GPs like anxiety, pain... so why exclude the GP?" he told Newshub.

The Ministry of Health will continue its consultation on the Medicinal Cannabis Scheme for another two weeks.