Customs has confirmed the long-standing legality of entering New Zealand with prescribed medicinal cannabis products.
On Wednesday, New Zealand Customs communications advisor Prasheeta Ram Taki confirmed the Misuse of Drugs Act 1975 has an exemption for people entering the country with up to one month's supply of a controlled drug provided it has been legally prescribed for their own use.
"Customs has not changed its position, however, it is working with the Ministry of Health and Police to ensure that any exemptions are applied in appropriate circumstances," she said.
She said customs officers will seize cannabis at the border when they are not satisfied that the cannabis has been lawfully supplied for the purpose of treating a medical condition.
A "loophole" in the law was recently bought to the public eye following Golden Bay women's case, Rebecca Reider.
Under the act New Zealanders can lawfully carry with them a one-month supply of medicinal cannabis or cannabis-related product, as long as it was legally prescribed by a medical practitioner overseas.
Reider faced criminal charges including importing cannabis chocolate bars prescribed by her family doctor in California which she then sent to her Collingwood address and were intercepted at Customs.
Grey argued because Reider was lawfully prescribed drugs while visiting overseas and the quantity was no more than one month's supply to treat a medical condition, it should have been legal.
Earlier this month a Customs spokesperson advised Rebecca Reider's lawyer, Sue Grey of Nelson that the department's policy would be to seize any cannabis products that were brought into New Zealand by arriving passengers.
"Even if it is disclosed on the arrivals form, is lawfully obtained overseas, was supported by a medical prescription and is for a month's supply or less," said the spokesperson.
A different Customs spokesperson Helen Keyes said she could not confirm whether the advice given to Grey was incorrect because each case had to be judged individually.
Grey believed Customs policy was unlawful, in breach of representations on their website and breached fundamental human rights and she invited the service to urgently review their position.
Reider appeared on TV3's Story this week and Grey said she was pleased to hear an official comment from Customs stating they will now assess all arrivals on their merits.
"It appears that people arriving with a month's supply of medical cannabis or products that contain medical cannabis and with a prescription or paperwork to show it was lawfully prescribed will now be able to bring it into New Zealand with them," Grey said.
Earlier this month Associate Minister for Health Peter Dunne back-tracked on his initial claim that the law could be interpreted this way after dismissing law professor Andrew Geddis' assertion that people could legally bring cannabis products into New Zealand.
Dunne also said he believed the legalisation of medicinal cannabis was likely within two years and would make the loophole redundant.