State government allows trials of medical cannabis

Health Minister David Davis

Health Minister David Davis

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THE state government will overhaul the law to allow clinical trials of medical cannabis.

The announcement comes just hours after a medicinal cannabis dealer - who supplies the substance to more than a hundred families - was jailed in New South Wales. 

Health Minister David Davis will announce an advisory committee, made up of medical and regulatory experts, that will also work through the complex issues to allow a trial examining the use of cannabis compounds in treating or relieving symptoms for a range of illnesses and conditions.

The Drugs, Poisons and Controlled Substances Act will be amended to make it easier to conduct  clinical trials involving cannabis and similar highly regulated substances from current legal requirements.

Current laws require doctors to get approval to treat every single patient who might be enrolled in such a trial.

The government is also considering legal changes to remove a ban on growing marijuana for therapeutic purposes in the context of approved clinical trials.

Mr Davis said allowing regulated cultivation for clinical trials in Victoria would help ensure the quality of the product being trialed is of an appropriate and assured standard.

"This is the right way forward. Simply declaring something legal doesn’t make it safe. Our approach is rounded in the best available scientific evidence,” Mr Davis said.

“The Napthine Government supports access to pharmaceuticals that are safe and effective, and we commit to removing barriers around safe and effective medications.”

National regulatory body Therapeutic Goods Administration has already approved one pharmaceutical-grade cannabis extract, marketed as Sativex, for treatment of symptoms of multiple sclerosis.

Sativex is an oral spray derived from cannabis grown under controlled conditions.

It will be investigated through a clinical trial in Victoria and other states for treatment of pain in patients with advanced cancer.

Opposition Leader Daniel Andrews has been contacted for comment. 

- with THE AGE 

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