A Labour MP's bid to change the laws around access to medicinal cannabis has been labelled "disappointing and unnecessary" by Associate Health Minister Peter Dunne.
Labour's West Coast MP Damien O'Connor has put forward a member's bill that he says will make the approval process for medicinal cannabis products simpler.
It would do that by explicitly stating in the law that the minister must not prevent the supply or administration of such products to someone who is either terminally ill or has a permanent condition that causes significant pain or impairment.
But Mr Dunne, who has a review of the current ministerial approval process already underway, says Mr O'Connor's approach will "confuse many and raise false hopes".
In a statement to NZ Newswire, Mr Dunne said there is no evidence the member's bill will actually broaden access to medicinal cannabis products, given the low number of applications to use them.
"The fact is, there have been three applications for ministerial approval for non-pharmaceutical grade cannabis-based products, two of which were approved while the third was withdrawn in favour of the pharmaceutical grade product Sativex.
"So quite why we need legislation removing this provision is unclear."
Mr Dunne said as part of the review of the approval guidelines, he is consulting with experts on a number of issues, including whether ministerial sign-off should continue to be required.
He has also said he is willing to work with other political parties on drug law reform.
As the law currently stands, the associate health minister has to approve the use of medicinal cannabis products, other than Sativex, for individual patients.
On Monday Mr Dunne 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One application, made by former union boss Helen Kelly's doctors, was withdrawn before a decision needed to be made.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.
There are no guarantees Mr O'Connor's member's bill will be debated by parliament.
It's in the member's ballot, along with 79 others, and just two or three are drawn at a time - usually every second Wednesday parliament sits.