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Medical Cannabis is Now Available in New Zealand in the Form of Tea

April 21, 2022 08:00 am ET
Medical Cannabis is Now Available in New Zealand in the Form of Tea

Australian Natural Therapeutics Group (ANTG) secured the first local cannabis farm which is 100% legal and now the group is bringing medical grade to the pharmacies of New Zealand. ANTG received the approval of the Ministry of Health to stock the shelves with cannabis tea. The New Zealand Ministry of Health explains that their products are “verified as meeting the minimum quality standard.” So, let’s have a look at the current status of cannabis in New Zealand as well as this exciting new option for treatment. 

The Approved Cannabis Product in New Zealand

Dr. Mark Hotu, co-founder of Green Doctors, stated that “This is a great day for New Zealand, just across the Tasman they’ve had dried flowers available to be prescribed by doctors for at least two to three years – we’ve been waiting a long time for this.” It is a great day indeed especially for patients suffering from chronic pain—like medical cannabis advocate Pearl Schomburg—who can finally access this excellent alternative to other risky pharmaceutical treatments. 

According to New Zealand’s News Hub, the tea may have been approved as the only form of medical cannabis to be prescribed but that Medsade believes that it is “unlikely how it’ll be used.” Pharmacy Owner James Yu explains that he suspects “a large portion of patients will go on to use it with a medically approved vaporizer or maybe even smoke it.”  

While oral consumption methods are good alternatives to smoking cannabis, and are more accepted by medical professionals, the tea can take up to an hour to relieve symptoms. For patients that require rapid relief this may not be the best option. Yu explains that consuming the tea through a legal vaporizer can provide relief within minutes. As a patient with real experience, Schomburg says “It took about 5-10 minutes before I felt the effects come on with the vape, it was a lot quicker than with the tea.” 

With regards to prescriptions, Dr. Hotu explains that, “in the same way we trust people not to overdose on the morphine or the tramadol we prescribe, we trust them not to take cannabis more than what we prescribe them to.” In addition, Schomburg explains that “patients are not looking to get stoned, they are using these products to feel better, to relieve their symptoms- it’s nausea for me, anxiety, pain.” 

While this is good news for citizens of New Zealand, the bad news is that it won’t be cheap. Dr. Hotu explains that it will cost around NZD $220-250 for ten grams, which is around double what one would pay for cannabis on the black market. 

The cannabis-based tea will be available in three products known as ANTG Mariposa (135mg/g of THC+THCA and <10mg/g of CBD+CBDA), ANTG Rocky (250mg/g of THC+THCA and <10mg/g CBD+CBDA) as well as ANTG Eve (10mg/g of THC+THCA and 125mg/g of CBD+CBDA). 

ANTG Involvement in New Zealand’s First Medical Cannabis Sales

Business News Australia released a press announcement on the Byron Bay-based Australian Natural Therapeutics Group (ANTG), which is the first Australian company to distribute its products as medicine. ANTG has established a partnership with NUBU Pharmaceuticals which is New Zealand’s largest medicinal cannabis distributor. Matthew Cantelo said that this partnership is a “landmark deal for both countries” and that “this agreement is not only a historic first for New Zealand, but also beneficial for the Australian industry as a whole.”

He goes on to explain that “The high benchmarks in Australia for growing and producing medicinal cannabis has set us up as the best in the world. We have a reputation and climate for growing excellent produce in general—it makes sense that we would produce the highest quality medicinal cannabis product as well” and that “Our Kiwi neighbors will also have access to the highest quality Australian flower while their home-grown cultivation industry starts producing.”

Mark Dye, co-founder and CEO of NUBU Pharmaceuticals is thrilled about the partnership with ANTG and explains that “being the first company to legally sell cannabis in New Zealand is beyond exciting—I can’t even begin to explain the blood, sweat and tears it has taken to get here” and that he is excited for the patients who have “been calling out for this for decades.” He explains that he is “so proud it is the team at NUBU that has been able to make this happen for them [the patients].”

What Does The Ministry of Health Say

The New Zealand Ministry of Health explains that medical cannabis products are only available on prescription if it has been assessed by the Medicinal Cannabis Agency as meeting the minimum quality standard and has obtained consent for distribution under the Medicines Act of 1981. They have even set out preparation instructions for the ANTG products which are as follows:

  1. Bring 500 ml (0.5 litres) of water to the boil in a covered vessel
  2. Granulate product (using a grinder is easiest) into fine pieces
  3. Add 0.5 gram of product to vessel
  4. Turn down the heat and simmer the tea for 15 minutes with the lid on the vessel
  5. Remove the covered vessel from the heat and strain the tea
  6. Store the leftover tea in a thermos if you are to drink more of it on the same day.

They even suggest that you “add a sachet of coffee creamer powder to the warm tea” which “prevents the active ingredients in the tea from sticking to the inside of the teapot or mug after cooling.”

Pearl Schomburg was the first New Zealander to use the newly approved cannabis products after a ten-year struggle with chronic pain and autoimmune diseases-and now many others will be able to benefit from the therapeutic powers of cannabis. The fact that medical cannabis is available as a tea is quite a different approach when compared to the fact that most medical cannabis products are available in the form of oil or capsules. For those who prefer coffee, you should consider combining the cannabis tea flower with coffee since the two can be complimentary.

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