A 7-year-old Rotorua girl is receiving medicinal cannabis treatment for severe seizures after the Health Ministry have its approval.
Karen and Adam Jeffries, the parents of Zoe, got the green light from the ministry to give their daughter the cannabis oil-based mouth spray Sativex for six months, nzherald.co.nz reported.
"It has been a long time coming, it's great news," Karen Jeffries said.
"We have been on it for a couple of weeks so it is early says but she is a lot more settled already."
Zoe is believed to be one of the youngest recipients of medicinal cannabis in New Zealand. She can suffer hundreds of seizures each day, has uncontrolled epilepsy, spastic quadriplegia cerebral palsy, microcephaly, cerebral visual impairment and is tube fed.
Father Adam Jeffries said the family hoped to control the seizures which caused further brain injury.
"You want to try to control the seizures that cause additional brain damage, but also you want to allow your child a life, to be awake and not drowsy, or have the strength to stand or just hold their head up high," he told the Herald.
Zoe's teachers reported seeing changes in her at school. They said she was more settled and able to cope with the noise.
Sativex is approved by Pharmac but it not funded. Doctors can prescribe it but the ministry must approve its use. A bottle, which lasts around four weeks, costs more than $1000. There are fewer than 30 user of Sativex in the country, the report said.
There are growing calls for greater use of medicinal cannabis.
Council of Trade Unions president Helen Kelly, who has terminal cancer, said she had resorted to the black market for cannabis oil to help with pain management.
Prime Minister John Key responded, saying the Government was not looking at wider use.