A teenager in an induced coma in Wellington Hospital will be administered medicinal cannabis after Government approval on compassionate grounds.

Alex Renton, a 19-year-old Nelson man, has been in hospital since early April. He is in "status epilepticus", a kind of prolonged seizure.

His family have been seeking an alternative treatment after conventional medicines failed to help the man.

Associate Health Minister Peter Dunne today approved on compassionate grounds the one-off use of Elixinol, a cannabis product from the United States to be administered by doctors at the hospital.


Mr Dunne said that despite the absence of clinical evidence supporting the efficacy of Elixinol, a cannabidiol(CBD) product 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".

"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.

"I have also 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 said.

Mr Dunne said the advice he has received was that there remains a lack of clinical evidence supporting the use of CBD products in sufferers of Mr Renton's condition.

"The fact that Elixinol does not have a supporting pharmaceutical testing regime means this application has been reviewed as a stand-alone case and weighed against the severity of his condition.

"I hope for a positive outcome for Mr Renton and his family," Mr Dunne said.