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Into the Looking Glass. What the Future Holds for Medicinal Cannabis in New Zealand in 2021

It’s hard to believe that medicinal cannabis was illegal in New Zealand in all shapes and forms before 2017. In only three short years there has been a giant leap forward for the burgeoning industry in terms of research, as well as products that are now helping thousands of Kiwis throughout Aotearoa. 

We expect 2021 to be an even bigger year! Sit back and enjoy as we interview the industry leaders to find out what 2021 has coming up for medicinal cannabis in NZ – from new companies to future products and plans. 

The Major Industry Milestones of 2020

In April 2020, the Medicinal Cannabis Scheme came into effect. The Scheme aims to improve access to quality medicinal cannabis products for patients’ needs by setting minimum product quality standards, for both CBD and THC.

Alongside the Scheme was an extension given to the transitional period, allowing medicinal cannabis products that are yet to meet the standard quality criteria to be supplied. This transitional period initially expired in November 2020, but an extension was granted for quality requirements until March 2021.

Before 2020, any THC prescription was long winded and required Ministry of Health approval. This is no longer the case, as any registered doctor can now prescribe it to you. This includes flower for vaporising and vape products. At the moment, there is only one THC product available for GPs to prescribe – Sativex which costs anywhere from $800-$1000. We are expecting other THC products to become available this year. 

  • The recreational cannabis referendum did not pass 

In October 2020, the NZ cannabis referendum was held but did not pass. While this referendum raised the question of legalising the sale, use, production, and possession of Cannabis, being voted down does not affect the status of medicinal cannabis, which remains legal.

What’s in Store for 2021?

Overall, we expect that 2021 will bring a range of new NZ-made products into the medicinal cannabis space. This includes new CBD and THC oils and cannabis flower products. While product prices are predicted to lower as a result, we are not expecting this to happen quickly because new licences and GMP certification add overheads and slow down the process.


Greenlab predicts the future of NZ medicinal cannabis to be enormous in the next four to five years.

‘President Joe Biden’s administration may end the US federal prohibition that will have a cascading effect down under. Also, the move by the UN to remove Cannabis from the list of the world’s most dangerous drugs into medicinal drugs can be in New Zealand’s favour,’ they declare.

They believe that in 2021 New Zealand will further evaluate and understand its local genetics for therapeutic potential and create scientifically proven strains wanted by medical doctors and needed by patients.

Greenlab’s vision is to position New Zealand at the forefront of medicinal Cannabis, responding to the needs of cultivators, patients, prescribers, and end users. At the start of 2021, Greenlab signed a contract with Cannvalate Australia, giving Greenlab scientists vital information on local strains’ product potential. Greenlab is growing at Lincoln University’s fully controlled environment to check cannabis potency and volatile compound profiles to fast-track the work.