A new medicinal cannabis product has been given the green light by the Government for a patient with a severe case of Tourette's Syndrome.
Associate Health Minister Peter Dunne has approved Aceso Calm Spray, a non-pharmaceutical grade cannabis-based product, following an application from a patient's consultant.
This is only the second time a cannabis product has been approved by Dunne – the first was last year when Nelson teenager Alex Renton was given Elixinol to treat "status epilepticus", a kind of prolonged seizure.
Renton died a month after seeking approval for the cannabis treatment and the only product currently available in New Zealand that doesn't require Dunne's approval is Sativex.
"While Sativex has previously been shown to be efficacious in treating (Tourette's Syndrome), the Aceso product has been chosen due to its reduced psychoactive side effects," Dunne said.
Medicinal cannabis is hitting the headlines lately after revelations a number of high-profile Kiwis have illegally used it.
Broadcaster Paul Holmes and cricket great Martin Crowe both turned to cannabis for pain relief before they died and former union boss Helen Kelly had her application for medicinal cannabis withdrawn.
A review of the guidelines for approving medicinal cannabis are currently underway but Dunne said given the latest application met seven of the eight existing criteria Dunne he approved it.
"The application was comprehensive, innovative and considered. The Director of Mental Health and the acting Director of Public Health recommended its approval," he said.
"Although it has been suggested that the information requirements for applications are too stringent, an aspect I expect the current guidelines review will look into, the application I received today suggests that they are not an impediment to robust, clinician-led, assessment-based approaches", Dunne said.