Medicinal cannabis regulations are extended while the NZDF fixes its sights on Covid-19 and DOC aims to eradicate pests

Our Beehive Bulletin

While Point of Order was preparing its previous post on medicinal cannabis, Health Minister Andrew Little was announcing transitional medicinal cannabis regulations are to be extended by six months to 30 September.

He brought COVID-19 into considerations, explaining that restrictions to deal with the pandemic have limited the abilities of companies to apply under the regulations.  This has affected global supply chains and added challenges to suppliers seeking to have products assessed.

Meanwhile the New Zealand Defence Force has set its gun sights on the virus and gone on the offensive.

For a raft of reasons set out in a press statement, Defence Minister Peeni Henare says it makes sense to vaccinate the whole uniformed force, numbering about 9500 personnel.

Conservation Minister Kiri Allan brought Covid-19 into considerations, too, when announcing a project to restore nature and sustain jobs in South Westland

But let’s get back to the extension of the transitional medicinal cannabis regulations.

Andrew Little said the Government is committed to making the system work and continuing access to prescribed medicinal cannabis products for patients who need them.

Two products from one company have been verified under the new regulations. But the Government wants to see multiple suppliers for price competitiveness.

“COVID-19 restrictions have limited the abilities of companies to apply under the regulations, has affected global supply chains and also added challenges to suppliers seeking to have products assessed.

“I am mindful of the risk that wholesalers could suspend imports in advance of the April 1 deadline and this would prevent patients from accessing prescribed medicines.

“By extending the deadline, patients will be still able to access products, while suppliers have the additional time they need to apply to the Medicinal Cannabis Agency for verification.”

The Government remained committed to bringing in the new regulation standards because patients and doctors deserved to know that medicinal cannabis products contained what the ingredient list said, were free from contaminants and were safe to consume, Little said.

The Misuse of Drugs (Medicinal Cannabis) Regulations 2019 came into effect on 1 April last year. The Regulations set a minimum quality standard for medicinal cannabis ingredients and products, and introduced a licensing regime to enable the establishment of a domestic industry to cultivate, manufacture and supply medicinal cannabis.

Meanwhile the NZDF today has started its own vaccination programme for uniformed personnel as part of the Government’s efforts to combat COVID-19.

Vaccination of the uniformed workforce already on duty in the Managed Isolation and Quarantine Facilities (MIQFs) started last month as part of the effort to vaccinate the whole border workforce.

As part of the response to the pandemic at the border, more than 1000 NZDF personnel are undertaking duties at the MIQFs and other COVID-19 regional and national headquarters at any one time.

The Defence Force regularly rotates these personnel.

Besides the MIQF duties, NZDF personnel are required to maintain readiness for other tasks such as short-notice domestic or international deployments. The NZDF also operates at the border through running its own airports and port, and many personnel live and mix communally on camps and bases.

“For all these reasons, it makes sense to vaccinate the whole uniformed force, numbering about 9500 personnel.”

An example of the readiness requirements for international deployments is the possibility the Defence Force may have to respond to a natural disaster in the Pacific, such as a Tropical Cyclone.

The NZDF’s vaccination programme will be delivered by its own Defence Health organisation, and starts today at most military camps and bases around the country.

Kiri Allen (eschewing mention of “the South Island”) announced what she described as “an ambitious project to restore nature and sustain jobs in COVID-hit South Westland”.

She said this was the biggest step yet “on mainland Aotearoa” towards the Predator Free 2050 goal.  .

“Predator Free South Westland will be an exemplar for how to achieve predator-free status more widely across the country.”

The project’s goal is to remove possums, rats and stoats from a 100,000 hectare area of public and private land from the mountains to the sea, a significant increase from the original 12,000 hectare site behind Whataroa.

The five-year $45 million project is being supported by $24 million from DOC.

“We know this region has been particularly hard hit by the economic consequences of Covid-19 and that the community is hurting.

“Jobs for Nature support will allow locals affected by the pandemic remain in South Westland while helping to carry out a ground-breaking project which will both protect and restore the area’s natural heritage, reinforcing its status as part of Te Wāhipounamu – South Westland World Heritage area.

 Up to 50 jobs are expected to be created over the project’s five years.

Ultimately Allen hopes the project will bring about an end to the ongoing widespread use of aerial 1080 to control predators within the region.

Predator Free South Westland is being run by Zero Invasive Predators (ZIP).The project will encompass the Whataroa, Okāritō and Franz Josef townships, and is chaired by former Federated Farmers president Katie Milne.

Latest from the Beehive

11 MARCH 2021

Jobs for Nature to support Predator Free South Westland

Transitional medicinal cannabis regulations extended

NZDF to start vaccinating its uniformed personnel

 

 

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