The Australian states of New South Wales and Queensland are moving ahead with medical marijuana trials.
New South Wales’ Government and the UK’s GW Pharmaceuticals have inked an agreement for a research program using medicinal cannabis to treat children with drug-resistant epilepsy.
The deal is part of a $21 million funding package to support medicinal cannabis reforms in NSW.
“Our research and development is driven by compassion for those suffering so we hope that these initiatives will bring relief to many children and their loved ones,” said Premier Mike Baird.
Premier Baird said the trials would cement NSW’s position as a world leader on medicinal cannabis research.
The active ingredient in the product to be tested is the cannabinoid cannibidivarian (CBDV); which has previously shown promise as an anti-convulsant, but doesn’t have the psychoactive effects of another cannabinoid, tetrahydrocannabinol (THC).
The agreement will also involve a compassionate access scheme for Epidiolex, GW’s preparation that contains another cannabinoid, cannabidiol (CBD).
Not everyone is happy with the agreement. Some have questioned why a British firm was selected over local cannabis suppliers and others have expressed concern over the use of placebos in the trial; given the danger involved with epileptic seizures in children.
Last week, the NSW government announced it was scouting for land suitable for growing cannabis.
Over the border in Queensland, Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk and Health Minister Cameron Dick have announced the state’s first medical cannabis program for people suffering from multiple sclerosis. Legislation will be changed to allow for the use of Sativex, a pharmaceutical medicinal cannabis spray; which is also produced by GW Pharmaceuticals. Sativex has been launched in 15 countries and approved in a further 12.
Sativex contains delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol and cannabidiol; extracted from the cannabis leaf and flower using liquid carbon dioxide.
Cannabis has proven to reduce stiffness and uncontrolled muscle movements in some MS patients, address overactive bladder issues and reduce nerve pain.
The Palaszczuk government says it will also work with its NSW counterparts in that state’s epilepsy trials.