Medicinal cannabis expert to begin teaching Kiwi GPs how to prescribe it this week

A visiting British medicinal cannabis expert is due to begin holding courses with general practitioners this week, as he advocates that doctors need to be ready to prescribe the drug.

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Dr Barnes is in New Zealand to educate doctors on how to prescribe the drug, once it becomes legal. Source: Breakfast

Professor Mike Barnes, a neurologist and director of education for The Academy of Medical Cannabis in London, is in New Zealand to conduct three events for doctors and healthcare professionals.

A law change is expected next year which will give doctors the power to prescribe medicinal cannabis under the Ministry of Health's Medicinal Cannabis Scheme.

Dr Barnes, speaking this morning to TVNZ1's Breakfast programme, said while cannabis is not a "wonder drug" capable of curing all ills, it is very useful for the right ailments.

"It is a very, very useful medicine for many people - but it is not a wonder drug," Dr Barnes said.

He said he believes there's "a risk of doctors under-prescribing it" in New Zealand if they are not up to date with its uses.

Dr Barnes said doctors will - rightly - have concerns about prescribing an unapproved drug, but that the solution lies in education.

Breakfast host Jehan Casinader also asked Dr Barnes about a potential conflict of interest.

His airfares and accommodation have been paid for by Helius Therapeutics - a large medicinal cannabis company that potentially stands to make significant profit from the introduction and prescription of the medicine.

Dr Barnes said he has no conflict of interest, and pointed out that the Royal NZ College of General Practitioners has endorsed his visit.

"I do a lot of this teaching in the UK," he said. "They've paid for the airfare. I don't get any other fee, so I hope what I say will be entirely objective and reasonable and balanced."

Watch the full interview above.