The state governments of New South Wales and Tasmania in Australia have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) relating to collaboration on clinical trials, research and cultivation of cannabis for medical and scientific purposes.
Announced earlier today, the partnership will see the two states team up on exploring the potential of medicinal marijuana for treating various illnesses.
“There is a strong willingness and determination to learn as much as we can about the potential therapeutic benefits of cannabis so we can make decisions based on evidence, that provide safe and effective relief for patients who are suffering from a range of serious illnesses,” said NSW Premier Mike Baird.
According to a report on the ABC, Tasmania will not be committing funding to any of the clinical trials; which will be focused on children with severe drug-resistant epilepsy, adults with a terminal illness or suffering nausea and vomiting associated with chemotherapy. We reported yesterday new evidence has emerged from US trials that cannabidiol (CBD), a compound in marijuana, can be effective in treating epilepsy in children.
It appears Tasmania’s main role in the partnership will be associated with its relevant knowledge gained through years of cultivation of another highly controlled and controversial crop – the opium poppy.
Around forty percent of the world’s legal opiate crop, used to create medicines such as morphine, is grown in Tasmania and the industry is a major financial contributor to the Apple Isle’s economy.
Tasmania is very protective of its poppy industry; to the point that last year it initially rejected the concept of growing cannabis, fearing it would pose a threat to it.
While generally welcoming the new agreement, Labor’s Lara Giddings lamented that Tasmania could have already been cultivating cannabis and questioned Premier Will Hodgman’s level of commitment.
“The Premier is admitting he’s not putting one dollar into medicinal cannabis, that’s how much he cares about medicinal cannabis,” Ms. Giddings said.
“If he really understood how important it is to the lives of children suffering epilepsy, or to the lives of cancer patients who lose their appetite gained again by the use of medicinal cannabis, then he will be putting money on the table.”
Both governments have agreed to work in concert with the Australian Federal Government, which wishes to see cultivation and research carried out under uniform guidelines across the country.