Associate Health Minister Peter Dunne has approved a one-off use of marijuana extract for a Wellington teenager in an induced coma.

The family of Alex Renton want his doctor to be able to administer cannabinoid oil because regular treatment hasn’t worked, but they needed the Government’s permission.

Mr Renton has been hospitalised since early April with a condition that causes him to suffer repeat seizures.

Over 40 treatments have failed to help him and his mother says the family should be allowed to try an alternative option.

This afternoon Mr Dunne announced he was approving the treatment for Alex on “compassionate grounds”.

“Despite the absence of clinical evidence supporting the efficacy of CBD in patients with Mr Renton’s condition status epilepticus, my decision relies on the dire circumstances and extreme severity of Mr Renton’s individual case,” he said.


“I have considerable sympathy for the family of Mr Renton who face an incredibly difficult situation.

“Understandably they want to do the best for their son, and they believe that this option is worth trying.”

He says he has considered the absence of any other treatment options, the low risk of significant adverse effects, and the conclusion reached by the hospital ethics committee from an individual patient perspective.

“Ministerial approval in this case does not extend beyond Mr Renton’s application and should in no way be construed as setting a wider precedent.”

He had approved it as a stand-alone decision only because the CBD did not have a supporting pharmaceutical testing regime, Mr Dunne said.

“My officials will be closely following the outcome of studies overseas, including those due to commence next year in Australia, on the efficacy of different products.

“Those results will help to inform future legislative and regulatory considerations here in New Zealand.”

“I hope for a positive outcome for Mr Renton and his family,” he said.

Orson is the founder of the London Cannabis Club.

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