The challenges of accessing medical cannabis and how RestoreMe is improving access for patients.
If you’re considering using medical cannabis you are probably worried about how much it costs and whether your GP would even be willing to prescribe it. You’re not alone, access to medical cannabis in New Zealand has been a recurring issue for patients despite the Medicinal Scheme coming into effect over two years ago.
The majority of New Zealanders who have tried to get a medical cannabis prescription have encountered barriers through high prices and lack of prescriber knowledge, often leaving them wondering if pursuing medical cannabis in New Zealand is even worth it.
Medical cannabis is legal and available in New Zealand. However, it hasn’t been easy to get a prescription or the medicines affordably. While there have been efforts to improve access to medical cannabis since the Scheme began in 2020, it is still by far the biggest issue facing patients and the industry.
Any person in New Zealand is eligible to be considered for medicinal treatments. However, recreational users who have no legitimate medical reason to use medical cannabis, individuals who have a history of a severe mental illness or psychosis and individuals who are on medication that interacts with medical cannabis or are pregnant should not use cannabinoid-based medicines unless under direction of their specialist.
Medical cannabis products are available in several forms in New Zealand, including cannabinoid and THC oils, tinctures and flower for teas and vaping. The most commonly prescribed forms of medicine are CBD and THC oils.
Our product catalogue is available to you following your initial consultation with us. For a list of all approved cannabinoid-based medicines please refer to The Ministry of Health website.
Until recently patients had limited options for sourcing their prescriptions and medical cannabis:
Patients seeking prescriptions from their doctor have had mixed results. While some doctors are open to medical cannabis and more are warming to it, the majority are still unwilling to prescribe it.
Healthcare professionals are often apprehensive for two reasons; a lack of clinical evidence and a lack of knowledge of the medicine itself. Unfortunately, this will not change overnight and therefore there needs to be a better path to accessing natural medicines for patients.
These clinics appeared quickly following the legalisation of medical cannabis. Most of these clinics rely on charging high consultation fees and marked-up products as they know a lot of patients struggle to access their medicine through their healthcare provider.
While it was far more expensive, patients generally had better success getting their script through a specialist clinic thanks to doctors with specialist knowledge of cannabinoid medicines and the conditions they can treat. Until we launched RestoreMe, this was a more expensive option.
A lack of transparency around pricing in the industry has resulted in pharmacies and other suppliers offering wildly different prices. As a result, patients may find substantial differences in pricing for the same product depending on who they purchase it from.
Despite price variation being an obvious issue since 2020, not much has changed and patients still have little way of knowing if they are getting a fair price or being ripped-off.
Medicinal advocates known as “Green Fairies” supply patients with cannabinoid products illegally in order to help patients who otherwise could not access cannabinoid-based medicines. While most are well-intentioned, they do not need to abide by regulations or offer any quality control which can lead to a wide variation in quality, cannabinoid profile and consistency.
These individuals primarily sell flower for recreational means and are less likely to be well-intentioned like green fairies. They tend to be cost-focused which results in a poorer quality product that may even contain mould or carcinogenic chemicals such as synthetic plant growth regulators (PGR). On top of the health risks, you have no way of knowing what strain you are getting, its cannabinoid profile and whether it is a strain that will work for you.
We already provide products that are close to black-market prices and there are more affordable New Zealand grown and made products on the way. When factoring in price it’s also worth considering that the quality and consistency of legal medicinal medicine is significantly better.
RestoreMe was established with one goal in mind and that is to solve the patient access problem in New Zealand. We want to ensure that patients who need medical cannabis are given the level of care they deserve. We believe patients should be able to access their medicine easily, safely and affordably without potentially facing stigma or judgement.
We don’t support the exorbitant consultation prices that have become common practice over the past two years, or charging overly high margins on products as seen elsewhere. Our consultations start at just $69 for the initial consultation which is cheaper than a visit to your local GP clinic. And only $45 per follow-up. Products available from RestoreMe have a fixed platform fee, which we know is considerably lower than what other clinics or pharmacies are currently either willing or able to charge.
We have a range of products sourced from New Zealand and overseas and prices are available through the patient portal once you’ve had your consult. For your cost saving we prefer to courier your products to you, however, there is no obligation to purchase from us, we are happy to send your script to your nearest pharmacy.
Our healthcare team have specialist knowledge and will work with you to develop your treatment plan. We’ll work with you to track your progress and make adjustments if needed during the follow-up consultations.
We work quickly. If you are prescribed medical cannabis during your consult, you can expect to receive your delivery of medicine within 3 business days.
Through RestoreMe, medical cannabis is now easily accessible and the most affordable in New Zealand for eligible patients. If you struggle with any of these health conditions you may be eligible for a prescription. Book your consult today.
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