New Medical Cannabis Council launched in Victoria
A new industry body, the Medical Cannabis Council, launched in Melbourne late in June. Its purpose is to give the cannabis industry a voice in a new regulated industry.
This will help Australia’s medical cannabis industry to position itself as a leader on the medical cannabis. The council will develop best practice standards for growing and supplying cannabis to patients. Council membership includes cannabis manufacturers and growers, health experts and researchers. They intend to conduct scientific research to produce safe products for the market.
The council launched during Medical Cannabis Awareness Week, which held Lucy Haslam’s United in Compassion Medical Cannabis Symposium. Lucy long campaigned for the right for her sick son to use medical cannabis. She is one of Australia’s strongest medical cannabis campaigners. She lost her son, Dan, in 2015 still fighting for the right for her son to use cannabis legally.
Lucy is a founding member of the Medical Cannabis Council. She still continues her fight for patient access to medical cannabis. Although Australia’s federal government legalised it in 2016, so far less than 150 patients can access medical cannabis. This is despite some experts calling cannabis is a “wonder drug”.
Medical experts support new peak industry body
Council member and cardiologist Dr Ross Walker said research so far was promising. But he stressed a need for more research. Recent studies have shown the effectiveness of low THC CBD in patients with anxiety and schizophrenia. Dr Walker said clinical trials and research are essential to producing regulated products.
Other council members who are medical experts include Professor Mark Cook, Head of Neurology at Melbourne’s St Vincent’s Hospital. Professor Cook has been supporting clinical trials testing the results of medical cannabis treatment in epilepsy. Also, Epilepsy Action Australia CEO, Carol Ireland who said cannabis gave hope to parents. Early indications show that cannabis is effective in treating children with severe epilepsy in areas traditional medicine fails.
Another council member, BuddingTech founder Adam Miller said the council is essential for the industry. It will help to provide good information and safe products to the public. The council will also encourage better collaboration between industry stakeholders working together.
BuddingTech is a medical technology startup working with people to build a viable, long-term industry. Miller said although the government had legalised medical cannabis it was not easy for patients to access.
A key aim of the council is to remove the confusion around the legalities of accessing medical cannabis. It aims to ensure patients know their rights and responsibilities, as well as what products are available.
Cannabis helps relieve rare disease
Ben Oakley has a rare disease. He is one of only two people in Australia diagnosed with stiff person syndrome. For more than 2 years he has used medical cannabis to treat debilitating body spasms. He and his father Michael look forward to the day when there is no longer difficulty accessing the treatment Ben needs.
First medical cannabis workshop for doctors
Medical Cannabis Awareness Week held the first Australian medical cannabis workshop for doctors. Its aim was to answer questions from the medical profession. Dr David Caldicott from the ANU said the workshop aimed to help doctors have a greater understanding of the effects of medical cannabis.
He said the issue for doctors was medical and not political. The purpose of the workshop was to provide information about using medical cannabis. Australia’s peak medical bodies want to see results from more clinical trials before passing judgement. Australian Medical Association president Dr Michael Gannon said doctors needed more evidence. He said the same due diligence must apply to cannabis products as other therapeutic goods.
Medical cannabis advisory council role
The Medical Cannabis council launch comes after the government formed the Australian Advisory on the Medicinal use of Cannabis to provide expert advice. The Australian government expects advisory council members to give advice about:
- setting up a regulatory framework for licencing growing and producing cannabis products
- creating guidelines for prescribing medical cannabis
- creating guidelines for using the Authorised Prescriber and Special Access Scheme
- research results that support medical cannabis as an alternative treatment for certain conditions.
Australia’s Health Minister, Greg Hunt said that Australians may not be aware they have access to imported products through a doctor (authorised prescriber) or through the Special Access Scheme B. He said the Advisory Council aims to standardise medical cannabis use to ensure that consistent dosing is safe.
There are currently more than 20 applications for medical cannabis licences and 12 of those are already listed on the ASX. The medical cannabis has the potential to be worth $50 billion by 2025.