Review of medical cannabis guidelines

Peter Dunne has asked the Ministry of Health to review their guidelines for dealing with applications from medical specialists for their patients to use medicinal cannabis products.

I hope they come up with something that gives the comfort and needs of suffering and dying people a much higher priority than bureaucratic and overcautious process.

Dunne requests further consideration of medical cannabis criteria

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 were more recently applied to an application for medical cannabis made on behalf of Helen Kelly but subsequently withdrawn by her oncologist before any Ministerial decision was required.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

The procedures were criticised after an application by Helen Kelly’s oncologist failed to provide the Ministry with sufficient information.

Oncologists and doctors can legally prescribe drugs like morphine that can impact significantly on the quality of a dying person’s life – and also impact on the length of their life.

It seems remarkable that they still have to jump through procedural hoops to give suffering patients something less dangerous and probably beneficial, at least in giving the patient some improved comfort.

Having to apply to the Ministry of Health still seems over-cautious and cumbersome, but I hope the Ministry will at least come up with ‘guidelines’ that make sense, make it much easier and put the needs of the patients first.

It can mean the difference between dying with less suffering and dying with more frustration (and I wouldn’t be surprised if there’s some anger as well).

Leave a comment


  1. Kevin

     /  27th February 2016

    Oh for god’s sake the guy’s bloody (a word I have not used for a very very long time) useless. Get someone in who can actually make a decision FFS!

    • Pickled Possum

       /  27th February 2016

      @ Kevin … Morning
      Not being sarky or mischievous to you. 🙂
      In total agree with your sentiment.

      “Get someone in who can actually make a decision FFS!”

      His haircut has made a mockery of all us possums and what comes out of his mouth on Drugs and well pretty much most topics … is not worth the ear bleed it gives.

      We need real Experts – chemical research scientist – behavioural analysts – corrections stats for cross reference on the job, because it’s taking forever.
      The snail like moves on Medical cannabis Law reform is Keeping normally law abiding citizens in the realm of Out Laws.
      For managing their pain down to Max Factor level.
      The terrible pain the drug cannabis soothes far out weighs the keystones bursting thru your door smashing your head with their *ArrrrHA Got ya*.

  2. One step at a time… its frustrating but its a move in the right direction IF it is followed through with and a more flexible policy is put in place giving Doctors a prescription right and removes the MOH apply and wait approach.

    I am not convinced this is genuine – its more like a political maneuver to give the impression of doing something while meaning to do nothing [yes that is a cynical attitude but MOH and the Minister have had years to research this and do something. Why they can’t make a decision now or in the next month or so is beyond me]

  3. good post 🙂

  4. Dunne had a chance to embrace the call for MM. He’s blown it (sadly not literally). It could have been his legacy, but he’ll be seen as the man who enabled chemical alternatives to a naturally grown medicine and failed to be a leader in this field. His attitude is pathetic.
    Too little way too late

  5. Robby

     /  27th February 2016

    “I hope they come up with something that gives the comfort and needs of suffering and dying people a much higher priority than bureaucratic and overcautious process.”
    Personally, I’m not too optimistic they will come up with anything of the sort. Those who have spent their entire working lives doing nothing, other than creating work for themselves in order to justify their taxpayer funded jobs, feel very threatened by this sort of talk. Why would they care about others suffering, when their jobs are at stake?


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