Medical Cannabis in New Zealand: Who is Eligible?

Who is eligible for medical cannabis in New Zealand? Learn about conditions commonly treated, the approval process, and eligibility criteria.

Medical cannabis have been a legal option in New Zealand since 2018, and thanks to the Medicinal Cannabis Scheme that was introduced in 2020, it's now easier for people to access cannabis medicines. But not everyone is eligible for treatment. In this article, we'll look at who can get medical cannabis in New Zealand and how to get a prescription.

Eligibility for Medical Cannabis Treatment

In New Zealand, any patient can technically be considered for medical cannabis as doctors are the ones who determine if medical cannabis is a worthy treatment option for the patient and their condition. There are no firm restrictions on what the medicine can be prescribed for.

Medical cannabis is commonly prescribed for:

Chronic Pain

Chronic pain is a common reason for seeking alternative treatments like cannabinoid medicines. Patients with chronic pain can experience severe and persistent pain that affects their quality of life.

Multiple Sclerosis (MS)

MS is a debilitating disease that can cause muscle weakness, difficulty walking, and vision problems. Cannabis medicines have been shown to help alleviate some of the symptoms of MS, including spasticity, pain, and tremors.

Chemotherapy-induced Nausea and Vomiting

Chemotherapy is a common treatment for cancer, but it can cause severe nausea and vomiting. Medical cannabis can help relieve nausea and improve appetite.


Epilepsy is a neurological condition that causes seizures. Cannabis medicines have been shown to be an effective treatment for some forms of epilepsy, helping to reduce the frequency and severity of seizures.


A lack of sleep can wreak havoc on your nervous system, stress levels and overall health. Many patients have found cannabinoids helpful for achieving a good night’s rest.


Medical cannabis and anxiety is a controversial topic. While some people report it helps relieve anxiety, others say it worsens it. The effects can vary due to different strains of the plant and their THC and CBD levels. High THC can increase anxiety, while high CBD may have anxiolytic effects. Consult a doctor before using medical cannabis to treat anxiety.

Approval Process

The approval process for medical cannabis treatments in New Zealand is straightforward but does involve several steps. Patients must first see either their general practitioner (GP) or a specialist clinic doctor who will assess their condition and determine if they are eligible for treatment and if natural medicines would be appropriate.

If the doctor determines that medical cannabis is the appropriate treatment, they will then write a prescription for the patient. This prescription can then be filled through a pharmacy or online dispensary that stocks medical cannabis products.

It is important to note that medical cannabis is typically not a first-line treatment and is usually only considered after other conventional treatments have been tried and have not provided relief.

Medical cannabis is a controlled substance, and all patients must comply with the rules and regulations surrounding its use. This includes using only the products that have been approved by your doctor, using only the recommended dose, and not driving or operating heavy machinery while under the influence of medical cannabis. For more information, refer to the obligations for prescribed products section of our website.

Why are some patients not eligible for medical cannabinoids?

Some patients with certain medical conditions and a history of psychosis, should not be prescribed medical cannabis as it may worsen their condition. Certain medications that interact with cannabinoids may also exclude a patient from treatment. If you fall into these categories, we would need a letter from your specialist before we could consider prescribing any cannabinoid-based medicines.

The simplest way to get a prescription

While we cannot guarantee a prescription, the process of obtaining a prescription through a specialist clinic like RestoreMe is typically the most straightforward option for patients seeking medical cannabis in New Zealand. Our doctors are knowledgeable about how to treat a range of conditions and patients with medical cannabis. Specialist clinics tend to be a better option for patients compared to approaching their GP as two-thirds of GPs are still unwilling to prescribe.

If you’re interested in medical cannabis, check out our blog for advice on Getting Started or book a consult with one of our friendly doctors today.