A MEDICINAL cannabis trial in NSW will be monitored by the WA Government
before it decides whether to hold a similar trial.

NSW Premier Bob Carr announced yesterday a four-year trial on the use of
cannabis to relieve harsh pain.

"This is a compassionate scheme," he said in the NSW Legislative Assembly.
"It's directed at people like the 62-year-old man with bowel cancer who uses
cannabis to relieve pain and to beat the nausea that stops him from eating."

WA Health Minister Bob Kucera said the working party on drug law reform
which advised the Government on cannabis legislation now before Parliament
also had examined medicinal use of cannabis.

It noted a number of major trials internationally.

"The Government is closely monitoring these trials and will evaluate the
implications of their outcomes for medical practice in WA," Mr Kucera said.
"We will obviously now also be looking closely at the NSW trial.

"Until the completion of any such review of these trials by the WA
Government, the situation remains that any form of cannabis use in this
State is illegal."

Under the NSW proposal, patients would get cannabis through the Health
Department.

It would be available for people with cancer, HIV/AIDS, nausea from
chemotherapy, severe or chronic pain, muscle spasticity due to multiple
sclerosis and spinal cord injuries.

People convicted of an illicit drug offence, people on parole, juveniles and
pregnant women could not register as a user.

The NSW Cancer Council cautiously welcomed the plan.

"Marijuana may help relieve the pain and nausea associated with cancer and
cancer treatments like chemotherapy, making patients more comfortable,"
spokeswoman Anita Tang said.

But she said smoking was not a good way to take any medication because of
damaging and cancer-causing effects on the lungs.

Shee said professionals should look at ways of administering marijuana that
did not involve smoking.

The head of the Quit marijuana Program at Sydney's Westmead Hospital, Jill
Pearman, said the plan was scandalous.

"I run a program whereby we see people who are psychotic because of cannabis
use," she said. "This is a very serious drug, it has very serious effects
on the brain."


Pubdate: Wed, 21 May 2003
Source: West Australian (Australia)
Copyright: 2003 West Australian Newspapers Limited
Contact: letters@wanews.com.au
Website: http://www.thewest.com.au