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MP drafts medicinal cannabis bill

NZ NewswireNZ Newswire 7/04/2016

A Labour MP has drafted a bill to make it easier for patients to access medicinal cannabis products.

Damien O'Connor says the current system, which is already under review, is bureaucratic and unclear.

"My bill makes the approval process simpler but has appropriate safeguards," he said.

"The key change is the minister must not prevent the supply and administration of processed cannabis products to a person considered by a registered medical practitioner to be either in the final stages of a terminal illness, or have a permanent condition that causes significant pain or impairment."

Mr O'Connor's bill is in the members ballot, along with 79 others.

Two or three are usually drawn every second Wednesday parliament sits.

Associate Health Minister Peter Dunne has authority to approve medical cannabis for patients.

On Monday he approved a product to treat a severe case of Tourette's Syndrome.

The application was the third he had received.

One application, made by former union boss Helen Kelly's doctors, was subsequently withdrawn before a decision needed to be made by the minister.

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

Mr Dunne says the guidelines for approving the use of cannabis products are under review and he expects issues around whether the rules are too stringent will be looked into.

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