Australia’s Minister for Health has announced funding to examine the benefits of medical cannabis use in cancer patients.
Announced by Minister Greg Hunt on Sunday, $3 million from the Medical Research Future Fund (MRFF) has been earmarked for the purpose. Funding for projects will be made available via an open and contestable grant opportunity.
“There have only been a limited number of well-designed clinical studies on medicinal cannabis, and we need to increase the evidence base to support medical professionals to make their decisions,” said Mr. Hunt.
The announcement was made at the Olivia Newton-John Wellness Walk And Research Run. Ms. Newton-John has been a very vocal advocate for medical cannabis and has used it for some years to manage her own condition.
Last year, Ms. Newton-John said she had a dream medical cannabis will be available to all Australian cancer patients and to patients suffering any kind of disease that causes pain.
“What an inspiration Olivia is!” stated Mr. Hunt on Facebook. “It was a privilege to join her in Melbourne today, to announce $3 million for clinical trials for medicinal cannabis, to help patients with cancer fight symptoms and pain.”
Minister Hunt says overall, more than 11,000 patients in Australia have been approved to access products – and the majority of approvals have been made this year. Still, there are many more patients across Australia eager to use medical cannabis, but are frustrated in their efforts to access it due to regulatory red tape.
Access to medical cannabis is well supported by Australians. In 2016, 85% favoured its use for medicinal purposes, rising from 69% in 2013.
The Australian medicinal cannabis industry also has the potential to contribute significantly to Australian exports, employment and economic growth – particularly in the country’s rural and regional areas.
The Morrison Government has been keen to be seen supporting the industry. Recently Mr. Hunt officiated at the opening of two facilities in Queensland – THC Global’s project in Southport and Medifarm’s facility on the Sunshine Coast.
In August, Minister Hunt announced the Federal Government will prioritise medical cannabis projects granted Major Project Status.