As part of the Victorian government’s support for legalised medicinal cannabis to be used “in exceptional circumstances”, Australia’s first phase of horticultural trials of the drug are complete.
Phase one identified suitable plant strains from which to grow multiple plants for use by patients, and phase two will now see those plants cultivated under the Victorian government’s watchful eye.
Last year the Victorian Parliament passed legislation to enable access to locally manufactured medicinal cannabis products for a defined group of patients. Children with severe epilepsy will be first in line to access the products from early 2017.
The government’s stance on medicinal cannabis, which resulted in The Access to Medicinal Cannabis Act passed by the Victorian Parliament in April 2016, has been driven by the fact that there has been no legally available product, and no oversight by health professionals.
Once the state scheme begins in 2017, patients will be able to speak with their GPs about the benefits and risks of such treatment, and whether it may be appropriate for their condition.
Long-time medicinal cannabis campaigner and chair of the Victorian Multicultural Commission Helen Kapalos told Neos Kosmos the state government’s actions were “a major step forward to alleviating pain and suffering for thousands of people, and to make this much-needed treatment available legally”.
“The Victorian government is a pathfinder on this vital issue and should be commended for its exemplary work in this area.”
Premier Daniel Andrews joined Minister for Health Jill Hennessy this week to announce the appointment of Professor James Angus as the chairperson of the Independent Medical Advisory Committee. The Committee is set to play a vital role in the delivery of the Government’s Medicinal Cannabis Access Scheme by providing advice on patient eligibility and the types of medicinal cannabis products that will be available to patients.
The Office of Medicinal Cannabis, within state’s health department, is also now operating, and will be responsible for the regulation of clinical and manufacturing aspects of the medicinal cannabis framework.
Victoria was the first state in Australia to legalise access to medicinal cannabis for those in exceptional circumstances, with the Labor government providing $28.5 million in the 2016/17 state budget to support the roll-out of the scheme.