Dunne requests further consideration of medical cannabis criteria

  • Peter Dunne

Associate Health Minister Peter Dunne has asked Ministry of Health officials to review the guidelines for considering medical cannabis applications.

Mr Dunne said this is a new policy area for New Zealand’s Ministry of Health and the wider medical profession, so there will inevitably be fine tuning as the process develops.

“The guidelines were set up at my request following the Alex Renton case in 2015, so far the only case where ministerial approval was granted, following an application from Mr Renton’s treating clinicians to administer the restricted product Elixinol,” said Mr Dunne.

The guidelines  were more recently applied to an application for medical cannabis made on behalf of Helen Kelly but subsequently withdrawn by her oncologist before any Ministerial decision was required.

“While I am satisfied that on the whole the guidelines are sound, they were prepared as guidance only.

“They  allow for flexibility across different clinical situations, and are certainly not set in stone as some have claimed.

“Nonetheless, some further review would be beneficial and I have asked officials to undertake further consideration of them.

“I am not ruling out seeking external input into this review process”, Mr Dunne said.

Mr Dunne will also be discussing these issues in Canberra next week at the Australian Drug Foundation’s National Drug Summit.

While there he will also be meeting with Federal Ministers to discuss a range of drug policy issues, including medical cannabis and preparation for the United Nations General Assembly Special Session on Drugsb (UNGASS), which takes place in April.