Skip to content

TVNZ: 'Good news' - Minister signs off on new medical marijuana product for multiple sclerosis patient

There's been a victory for a group of medical marijuana camp


Associate Health Minister Peter Dunne has signed off a new product for a patient who has multiple sclerosis and there is hope that the rare decision will open the door for others.

Doctor Huhana Hickey lives with multiple sclerosis and has been using Sativex to help cope with the pain.

It is the only readily available marijuana-based pharmaceutical grade product in New Zealand.

But at a cost of $1200 a month, Sativex is making Dr Hickey broke.

"The overdraft is getting up to $5000 and the Kiwisaver was $6000. That's all gone," said Dr Hickey.

Now she has been given sign off by Mr Dunne to use Tilray, a new medical marijuana product that is about half the price of Sativex.

"It appears to be a very good alternative and it's not a spray so I don't have to deal with the mucosal damage that happens with spray," said Dr Hickey.

This now means Mr Dunne has given three New Zealanders permission to use medical marijuana products that are not pharmaceutical grade.

His office says the minister only goes on the advice put forward by the experts in the Ministry of Health.

I'm expecting it's going to be much easier to get further applications for Tilray" Shane Le Brun of Medical Cannabis New Zealand

"Great news, it's been a long while coming," said Shane Le Brun of Medical Cannabis New Zealand.

Mr Le Brun has been helping Dr Hickey and others, and is working within the current system.

"We can fundraise for legal medicines, we can advocate for alternative products which are hopefully cheaper," he said.

He hopes this latest decision will encourage doctors to advocate for marijuana based drugs more often.

"Once we've got this first, one day with Tilray I'm expecting it's going to be much easier to get further applications for Tilray," said Mr Le Brun.

This week a 17,000 strong petition was presented to Parliament, calling for cannabis to be treated as a health product.

Dr Hickey agrees with the reform, but she also wants regulation.

"I need to know that product is safe for me, and will address my medical needs," she said.

Dr Hickey is pleading for change so people are not forced to turn to the raw untested product.

Public Domain Mark
This work is free of known copyright restrictions and is licensed as CC0 1.0 Universal (CC0 1.0)