Medicinal cannabis proposals have been released by the Government, in an attempt to create a market in New Zealand that would "deliver quality, affordable products to patients and be commercially sustainable".
The Ministry of Health proposals include vaporising the cannabis rather than smoking, and letting specialists prescribe certain products without Ministry of Health approval.
"Medicinal cannabis products are available on prescription with ministerial approval. However, there is a lack of affordable products made to a quality standard available in New Zealand," the consultation document stated.
It said due to no medicinal cannabis product being manufactured in New Zealand, some patients have accessed product illegally, leading to issues around quality, continuity and the possibility of prosecution.
"The scheme proposes to increase supply of products through licensing the cultivating of cannabis in New Zealand and the manufacture and supply of medicinal cannabis products made to quality standards.
"It must deliver quality, affordable products to patients and be commercially sustainable."
Health Minister David Clark said the "legislation Parliament passed in December paved the way for greater access to medicinal cannabis products and ultimately will allow New Zealand companies to manufacture quality medicinal cannabis products for local and international markets".
"Making medicinal cannabis more readily available has the potential to help ease the suffering of thousands of people who are living in pain, so it’s important we get these regulations right," he said.
However, National is calling the timing of the public consultation an "outrageous misuse of the policy process".
The Government "has rushed through a bill and only now has it started the discussion around it", health spokesperson Michael Woodhouse said.
"The bill essentially left the details of a medicinal cannabis scheme to officials with no further parliamentary oversight over the final form and function of the bill. New Zealanders elect us to make decisions, not to pass off the big calls to others."
The public can give feedback for four weeks. It is estimated the scheme will be in place at the beginning of 2020.
The document looked at standards for cultivation and manufacturing, licensing, distribution and prescribing, controls on products and fees and charges.