New Zealand iHemp Regulatory Environment



Administration of the iHemp Regulations is changing

From the 1st of April 2023, the administration of the iHemp regulations will move from Medicines Control, Protection Regulation and Assurance to Regulatory Practice and Analysis.

This will mean we are moving away from Michael Haynes and his team and will be working with a new manager at Regulatory Practice and Analysis, who are also responsible for the operational functions of the Medicinal Cannabis Agency and the Psychoactive Substances Regulatory Authority.

Such a move was predicted by many in the industry, who remain fearful that this will mean low-THC iHemp will be captured by the higher compliance requirements and standards associated with producing medicinal products.

We met online with Chris James, Group Manager, Medsafe on Monday 13th March, and confirmed the new team would continue to view the iHemp regulations as its own separate framework and a pathway to issue and administer iHemp licences would be maintained under our iHemp regulations. There was no consultation on this move, which is driven by the administrative efficiencies created by adding low THC iHemp into a department that is already dealing with medicinal cannabis.

Chris also highlighted this is a positive move with potential benefits for the iHemp industry:

  • Having a dedicated team that is focused on cannabis and has knowledge of cultivation and some of the challenges of our industry
  • The team understand the different risk profile of low-THC industrial hemp compared with medicinal cannabis
  • A better understanding should ensure we are dealt with on an appropriate risk basis
  • iHemp licences will continue to be dealt with under the iHemp regulations and will be completely separate from the Medicinal Cannabis Agency regime
  • Improvements in communication and administration by setting expectations regarding time frames for applications and timely responses from officials 

The NZHIA feel that moving from the restricted view held by Michael Haynes is a positive and look forward to building a collaborative relationship with the new team to finally “enable” the industry, via a more industry-friendly administration of the iHemp Regulations 2006.

The new MOH team are currently undergoing training for the transfer and the NZHIA is organising a meeting with the new manager to ensure the team understand their roles and responsibilities under the iHemp regulations. We have discussed the low-risk nature of low THC iHemp and therefore the need for a light regulatory touch and we aim to start this new relationship on the right foot, to ensure they understand the history, facts and evidence that support this “light touch” approach to issuing licences under the iHemp regulations.

This move is a great opportunity for the industry to move forward on a number of issues that have been highlighted in the past

  • The need for a review of the iHemp regulations and removal of control under the Misuse of Drugs Act
  • The workability of the regulations, regarding THC testing and licences, allowing R&D and industry to get involved 
  • The treatment of THC levels, hemp seed, roots and how the industry works with MOH and other legislation
  • Avoiding problems before they occur by taking a collaborative industry-orientated approach 

A communication will soon be sent by Michael Haynes and his team at Medicines Control to licence holders and stakeholders so they are aware of this move, including the new contact details and confirming the same process and functions will be administered by the new team from day one of the handover, to ensure applications and support are seamless for the industry.

If you have any feedback on this move, please email

See also: The Legal Foundation for our iHemp Industry

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