Minister criticises pro-cannabis groups over medicinal marijuana

The Associate Health Minister has weighed in on the medicinal marijuana debate criticising pro-cannabis groups as "misleading and emotive".

Peter Dunne approaches media in parliament. Source: 1 NEWS

Peter Dunne says the claims from pro-cannabis groups that the Government is blocking research into medicinal marijuana is wrong.

"That is not only absolutely wrong but also shows a woeful ignorance of the process for approving any new medicinal products," says Mr Dunne.

This comes after the issue was put into the spotlight on TVNZ's Sunday and Breakfast programmes when a Kiwi dad spoke out asking the Government to "step up" and reassess its laws on medicinal marijuana, saying the positive effect it has had on his daughter has exceeded his expectations.

Brent Gallien, the father of an 11-year-old who suffers from a rare and severe form of epilepsy, says his daughter was suffering several seizures every day before she was prescribed a cannabis extract called Sativex.

Mr Gallien says there are better products that have a far less risk of causing negative side effects but the Government has so far refused to approve them.

But Mr Dunn says if cannabis is sought for its medicinal benefits, then it must be subject to the same rigour and testing that's expected of all pharmaceutical products. He says consumers need to be directing their questions to the pharmaceutical industry not the government.

"The fact is the government does not oppose the trial and development of cannabis-based medicines, as the availability of Sativex on the New Zealand market already shows."