CBD-Asia Pacific-New Zealand

CBD in New Zealand


Currently CBD is only allowed for sale as a prescription medicine in New Zealand, but that could change if the adult-use cannabis referendum passes in September 2020. Several global players have already set up shop in Auckland and this will likely increase if the referendum passes.

Population GDP per Capita Healthcare Spend per Capita Cannabis Use Average Price per 500 mg Tincture 2020 Market Potential

4.8 million





US $3.2 million

Regulatory Overview

New Zealand's parliament passed the Misuse of Drugs (Medicinal Cannabis) Amendment Act in December of 2018, removing CBD from the country's list of controlled drugs, defining it instead as a prescription medicine. To access any CBD product, a consumer must go through the same steps and requirements as they would to access any other pharmaceutical medicine – a doctor's visit, a prescription, and a pharmacy are necessary before a patient can access CBD.  

New Zealand's allowed limit on THC as a contaminant in CBD products is higher than most countries' – THC must not exceed 2.0% of the total content.

The country has relatively high cultural acceptance of cannabis usage and will vote in a popular referendum to legalize adult-use cannabis in September 2020. The question will be included as part of the country's General Election and will be posed in a straightforward question, “Do you support the proposed Cannabis Legalization and Control Bill?” Because the country identifies no difference between cannabis products with CBD and cannabis products with THC in them, this bill will have huge ramifications for the CBD industry as well. The main regulations up for consideration include a limit of home-growing to two plants per adult, a possession limit of 14 grams of dried cannabis, a minimum age of 20 years to possess, protection for 'consumption premises' which could include food and beverage sales, and stringent regulations which effectively ban all advertisements.  

The passing of the adult-use bill would be great news for consumers, who would have access to much more affordable products, but would spell great competition for burgeoning cannabis producers in the country.

Consumer Perceptions and Cultural Factors

In a study with the University of Auckland, a doctor set up a medicinal cannabis clinic to study the effects of CBD in treating certain conditions. Results from 250 people were included in the study and 70% of them reported good, very good or excellent benefit after four weeks of CBD use, according to the study. This study came as a result of concerns that there isn't enough information about the health benefits and risks associated with taking medicinal cannabis products ahead of New Zealand's 2020 referendum on legalizing cannabis.

Even if the referendum does not pass, it is likely that New Zealanders will be exposed to more information and press coverage regarding the benefits of both THC and CBD in the months leading up to the vote. While the proposed regulations are still being determined and will surely affect the outcome of the vote, the existence of the referendum proves that there is growing acceptance and normalization of cannabis use across New Zealand, and may even contribute to the growth of that acceptance.  

Competitive Landscape

Australia-based Elixinol broke into the New Zealand market as a provider of medical-grade CBD products in early 2019. Consumers with prescriptions can access CBD products made by Elixnol through online orders of up to three months' supply. The company offers capsules, tinctures, and tinctures to patients, all qualified for GMP certification. 

Charlotte's Web is also available in New Zealand, although it's unclear how popular they are. Australian medical cannabis production company, Helius, has opened a second manufacturing location which will focus solely on the production of CBD products.

Growth Drivers

  • The Misuse of Drugs (Medicinal Cannabis) Amendment Bill opened the country to legal cultivation of medical cannabis and manufacture of multiple product formats, for sale domestically and internationally.  

  • The passage of the adult-use referendum would make it easier to get access to CBD and have a big impact on this market.


  • The Misuse of Drugs (Medicinal Cannabis) Amendment Bill presented a huge obstacle to the CBD industry, which was hoping for more lenient regulations on CBD, such as a definition of CBD as a food supplement, rather than a prescription medicine.

  • While domestic producers will no doubt rush to fill the demand if the adult-use referendum passes, European and North American producers will have a significant advantage, with the ability to scale up production rapidly and with many of them already operating in New Zealand's market as a prescription medical product.


  • On the other hand, the bill improves on regulations in other countries as it doesn't require patients to see specialists or doctors to pursue extra certifications – general practitioners can prescribe it as they see fit without additional requirements on either the prescriber or patient.

  • The September 2020 referendum will decide the future of all cannabis products – those including THC and otherwise – and could force an aggressive leap in New Zealand's CBD industry.

  • There is recent news of a potential change in policy coming from Australia, indicating regulations around CBD products may be relaxed. The country's health agencies are considering defining and codifying the difference between THC and CBD products, and CBD products may be listed in the near future as simply over-the-counter drugs. This would represent a large opportunity for producers in neighboring New Zealand to begin exporting to other markets.

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