NSW Terminal Cancer Cannabis Trial Anger

NSW cannabis cancer trial
Cannabis Image: BigStock

There’s anger among sufferers of terminal cancer and their families over the delay of an important medical cannabis trial in New South Wales, Australia.

The ABC reports the State Government is running months behind schedule on this trial; with the only other trial to have started is one associated with childhood epilepsy.

The goal of the terminal cancer trial is to assess whether medicinal cannabis products can improve the quality of life for adults with end-stage terminal cancer.

According to the ABC’s source, the first phase of the trial, originally to have started in July, probably won’t begin this year. When it does commence, it will take three months to complete and then a second phase will begin. The ABC understands the source of the delay to be the Government experiencing difficulties sourcing a suitable placebo for the trial.

For those with end-stage illnesses, clinical trial delays – however brief – just extends suffering. When it goes on for months, some would say it’s inexcusable.

However, there is an option for NSW terminal cancer sufferers wanting to use cannabis; albeit far from ideal.

The Medicinal Cannabis Compassionate Use Scheme  provides guidelines for NSW Police Force officers to assist them in determining whether or not charge someone who uses it to alleviate their symptoms – and the carers who assist them.

Patients must be registered for the Scheme. To register, the patient must be over 18 years of age and an Australian-registered medical practitioner involved in their ongoing care needs to certify the person has a terminal illness as defined by the scheme. Up to three carers can also be nominated.

A patient’s doctor doesn’t prescribe the cannabis, nor do they have to agree with it being a suitable treatment – the doctor just has to certify the illness.

While it does offer an option, it doesn’t secure supply – which we assume still needs to be obtained by illegal means. It also doesn’t prevent the stress associated with police involvement should the patient be apprehended.

It really is a crazy world when these patients can gain access to heavy-duty opioids such as morphine that can have some very unpleasant side-effects; yet marijuana remains basically verboten – forcing people into situations that they may otherwise never participate in.