14 Feb 2016

Missing information in cannabis bid - Dunne

6:32 am on 14 February 2016

Health officials have tried unsuccessfully to get the information they need to approve former trade unionist Helen Kelly's application for medicinal cannabis, Associate Health Minister Peter Dunne says.

New Zealand Council of Trade Unions, Helen Kelly.

Photo: CTU

Former Council of Trade Unions president Ms Kelly was diagnosed with terminal lung cancer last year.

In January she applied to the Ministry of Health to use a cannabis product to help control her pain and nausea, but yesterday the ministry deferred her application, saying it did not contain enough information.

Mr Dunne said the ministry had requested further information from Ms Kelly's oncologist.

250614. Photo Diego Opatowski / RNZ. Leader profiles. Peter Dunne, leader of the United Future political party.

Peter Dunne Photo: RNZ / Diego Opatowski

"My understanding is they have made a number of attempts to do so ... but to date, no such information has been provided," he said.

"For that reason, they can't formulate a recommendation to me on the application and I can't reach a decision on their recommendation."

If Ms Kelly provided the necessary information then the ministry could reconsider the application and make a recommendation, Mr Dunne said.

Ms Kelly said she would try to work out what more information the ministry wanted and re-apply.

"They've said my doctor hasn't described enough how the current drugs I'm taking are not working," she said.

"He's described all the drugs I'm taking and he's a senior oncologist and he said, 'I'm seeking permission to give her cannabis', but they're saying - they're second-guessing him - 'are you sure you've tried everything?'."

The ministry had suggested she apply for another cannabis product, Sativex, but its chemical make-up meant people who took it experienced greater hallucinatory effects than the product she wanted to use, Ms Kelly said.

Get the new RNZ app

for ad-free news and current affairs