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New Zealand’s first cannabis flower products hit pharmacy shelves

Health authorities are recommending patients don’t inhale

New Zealand’s first CBD flowers.

The dried flower products are manufactured by Australian Natural Therapeutics Group and distributed by NUBU Pharmaceuticals.

Pharmacies in New Zealand can now sell dried cannabis flower to registered patients suffering from chronic pain, but health authorities suggest using it only as tea.

The first CBD-dominant flower product became available Tuesday.

Last month, the Kiwi Ministry of Health approved more cannabis flower products, but only one is available for purchase so far.

The verified product has met minimum quality standards for oral administration, but doesn’t yet meet the standard for inhalation, a Ministry of Health spokesperson says.

“It’s important to note oral use as a tea is a valid route of administration and note that it is the route of administration submitted by the company for verification, with the instructions for doing so submitted by the company,” the spokesperson explains.

“Use of this product by inhalation would present an increased risk to patients due to the levels of microbial contamination in the product.”

Doctors need to be aware of the increased risk of inhalation and make an informed decision on whether to prescribe a product outside of its verified use, the spokesperson continues.

The approved cannabis is manufactured by Australian Natural Therapeutics Group (ANTG) and distributed by MW Pharma Limited doing business as NUBU Pharmaceuticals.

NUBU is one of the largest distributors of CBD in Australia, and currently has distribution deals with six companies including TheraLeaf, Sciva International, Canndoc and MGC Pharmaceuticals to supply medicinal cannabis products, as well as Canopy Growth Corp.‘s (TSX: WEED) (Nasdaq: GCG) Storz & Bickel for medical vaporizers.

The products come in three different 10-gram formats with different ratios of THC and CBD. ANTG Rocky and ANTG Mariposa were verified in early February, and have higher concentrations of THC, while ANTG Eve is CBD-dominant.

According to local reports, the products cost C$180–$210, which is around double the price of black market cannabis.

Under the country’s Medicines Act doctors can prescribe a medical cannabis product, and suggest an unverified route of administration.

In New Zealand, medical cannabis has been legal since April 2020 under the Medical Cannabis Scheme, but ANTG’s products are the first cannabis flower to become available.

Adult-use legislation was proposed but shut down in an October 2020 referendum.