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Australia - Push For Medical Cannabis Trials Gains Momentum Nationally

The General

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The campaign to legalise medical cannabis for those suffering terminal illnesses is gaining momentum across Australia with state and federal MP's calling for changes to existing laws. New laws which allow medical cannabis trials will be introduced into the Victorian Parliament today. On Monday, West Australian Health Minister Kim Hames called on the Federal Government to take the lead by undertaking national cannabis trials. "We need a national approach, that there are potential benefits from non-low THCs cannabis, as in the cannabis oil, but we need a national study done to see whether it works or not, and if so, how well it works," Dr Hames said.

Meanwhile, Queensland Liberal MP Warren Entsch is working on a private members bill to persuade his federal colleagues of the benefits of medical cannabis. "It's not experimental. It's absolute fact and it's been recognised in Canada, in the Czech Republic, in Holland, in the United States - in many places it's already recognised," Mr Entsch said. "And it has been around for time immemorial and it has made a difference. And for the love of me, I just can't understand why we can't - why people that need this can't have access to it without feeling that they're going to be criminals." In NSW, the state cabinet is considering a private members bill to legalise small amounts of cannabis for the terminally ill. While the ACT, Tasmania and the Northern Territory are also considering the possibility of medical trials. Queensland and South Australia are not prepared to consider cannabis trials.

'Great believer' in cannabis oil
Cancer patient Rita Cappelleri is using cannabis oil, which she said made chemotherapy easier to bear compared to treatment without the oil. Ms Cappelleri was diagnosed with breast cancer five years ago and struggled through chemotherapy. "Nausea, awful taste in my mouth. Just that unwell feeling ... especially three days after the chemo," she said. This year the cancer returned and she said she was now a "great believer" in the oil. "I wouldn't be doing this otherwise. And I have put other people on to it because I do believe that it has benefits."

More research is needed into side effects: AMA
New South Wales Australian Medical Association president Saxon Smith wants more scientific research. "So we really have to define further what part of the plant is beneficial for certain conditions," he said. "What are the short-term and long-term benefits available to these patients? Is it a sustained benefit or is it no more than a placebo? And more importantly as well, what are the long-term and short-term side effects that patients will have as well?

Drug reform advocate Alex Wodak, from the Australian Drug Reform Foundation, said many cannabis trials have already been completed overseas. "In our paper in the Medical Journal of Australia last December, we cited 82 favourable control trials and nine unfavourable control trials. "Now, there are a lot of medicines widely used in Australia today that are not supported by as strong as evidence as that."

Cannabis is currently listed as a prohibited substance by the Therapeutic Goods Administration and any state which legalises cannabis for medical use will have to grow and extract the product within state borders. A spokesman for Assistant Federal Health Minister Fiona Nash said while the Government understood the suffering of many chronically ill patients, there were no plans to change the current legal status of cannabis.


News Moderator - The General @ 420 MAGAZINE ®
Source: Abc.net.au
Author: John Stewart and Candice Talberg
Contact: Contact Us
Website: Push for medical cannabis trials gains momentum nationally as doctors urge caution
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