Following the Australian Federal Government’s announcement it would permit medicinal cannabis cultivation, New South Wales’ state government says it has commenced searching for suitable sites to grow crops.
The NSW Government has also previously committed $9 million to clinical trials of medicinal cannabis and related products for the treatment of conditions such as drug-resistant epilepsy, chemotherapy-induce nausea and for applications in palliative care to help relieve the suffering of those with terminal illnesses.
Also already in place is the Terminal Illness Cannabis Scheme (TICS); which provides guidelines for NSW police officers to assist law enforcement officers in determining discretion with regard to the laying of charges against terminally ill adults who use cannabis and/or cannabis products and their carers. Patients must register with the state government.
While the TICS is certainly useful, it creates unwelcome pressure for all involved and stigmatises patients; as well as creating concerns over supply and quality of medicinal cannabis products.
“We do not want patients or carers having to play pharmacist, this collaborative approach ensures we have a way forward,” said NSW Minister for Medical Research, Pru Goward concerning the Federal Government’s recent announcement.
“It is important to get the scheme right. We look forward to further consultation occurring with other state and territory governments, this is an issue that is beyond politics.”
Given the hardy nature of cannabis and the climate of New South Wales; the Government should have no problem in locating suitable sites to commence what could be a thriving and lucrative industry in the state. The plant often does well on land that would be considered marginal for some other crops and generally requires no chemicals, pesticides or herbicides; although marijuana plants for medical grade application are often grown indoors.
New South Wales has been somewhat of a leader on medical cannabis. It has has already established the Centre for Medicinal Cannabis Research and Innovation, which will receive $12 million in funding in total over four years in addition to the $9 million for the clinical trial set to begin next year.
Among its roles, the Centre will house local and international researchers, monitor the NSW funded clinical trials and educate the public. The Director of the Centre is NSW Chief Scientist and Engineer, Professor Mary O’Kane.