Renton case doesn't create cannabis precedent - Dunne

Renton case doesn't create cannabis precedent - Dunne

Legalisation of cannabis won't happen under the current government, despite it allowing the one-off use of cannabinoid oil for Nelson teenager Alex Renton, the Associate Health Minister says.

While the Government allowed the use of Elixinol, a medical product made of hemp oil, to treat Nelson teenager Alex Renton, Peter Dunne says it changes nothing regarding the legalisation of cannabis.

Permission was allowed for Renton to have the product, which is illegal in New Zealand but available in the US, after an application was made to him by his family.

Renton, 19, had been in hospital after developing a condition which meant he suffered continuous seizures. He died on July 1 after around three months in hospital.

However, it was revealed on TV3's 3D programme last night his mother Rose had been giving it to her son three weeks before permission was granted.

"When no one was around I'd put it down the back of his mouth with a syringe. A mother would do anything," she said.

Mr Dunne says while he believed her actions were "unfortunate and unwise", he understood her reasons for doing so.

She also criticised the Government's current legislation, calling it "immoral and outdated".

"This is a mother who is grieving the loss of her son, I fully understand that. What makes me angry is a number of other people associated with her and around it who made it so blatantly obvious this whole thing was a game on their part, not on Mrs Renton's part, on their part, for legalising cannabis fullstop. That is not going to happen.

"There is no plan or intention by this government to make use of the cannabis leaf legal," Mr Dunne says.

The application to use Elixinol was the first Mr Dunne had received under the legislation, and he hasn't had any requests since. He approved it within an hour of receiving the application.

He said it's use didn't create a landmark decision.

"In her case, if you want to be brutally honest, the treatment that was applied for her son sadly did not succeed so I cannot see how that creates a precedent."

He approved its use based on the evidence from Alex's clinicians and the Ministry of Health and future decisions would be made the same way.

He believed the current law around approving using certain controlled drugs in certain situations is adequate.

As for whether action should be taken against Ms Renton for using the substance illegally, Mr Dunne says he will leave it for the district health board to investigate.

However, he was concerned about the possible security issue.

"The idea a person could go into an intensive care unit and administer some other substance to a patient presumably under the care of the people in the ICU, I think is quite serious."

Meanwhile, Ms Renton told RadioLIVE the family only used homeopathic remedies for illnesses and believes the wider issue is about freedom of choice in medical care.

"It's an issue for New Zealand. For those who choose to go to the hospital in that way and use their drugs they have that choice and I'm not debating that – I'm sure a lot of people would choose it but a third or more of New Zealand? We wouldn't choose their drugs."

Ms Renton, who is pro-medicinal cannabis, said Alex had previously had marijuana while living in Golden Bay but it had not "controlled his life" and was more of a recreational user.

3 News