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Medical cannabis approval process 'sound'

NZ NewswireNZ Newswire 19/05/2016

There won't be any major changes to the current process for approving the use of medicinal cannabis products in New Zealand, following consultation with medical experts.

Associate Health Minister Peter Dunne asked officials in March to look at whether the current guidelines for assessing applications to prescribe cannabis-based products, including the need for ministerial sign-off, were still fit for purpose.

"The feedback received was unanimously supportive that the guidelines and process are sound," Mr Dunne said on Thursday.

"The consistent feedback from experts in their field was that cannabis-based products should be treated no differently to other medicines - evidence-based principles should and will continue to be followed."

The associate health minister will still need to approve the use of cannabis-based products, other than Sativex, for individual patients.

Mr Dunne has received just three applications for the use of such products.

In April he approved a product to treat a severe case of Tourette's Syndrome.

One application, made by former union boss Helen Kelly's doctors, was withdrawn before a decision needed to be made.

The first application to be approved was in the high-profile case of Nelson teenager Alex Renton, who died in Wellington Hospital last year.

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