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Medical Cannabis available in Victoria 2017

The Victorian Government has introduced legislation to enable access to locally cultivated and manufactured medicinal cannabis products for a defined group of patients. Children with severe epilepsy where other treatments have failed will be able to access medicinal cannabis products from 2017.


Medicinal cannabis use

One of the greatest risks in relation to medicinal cannabis is there is currently no legally available product, and no oversight by appropriate health professionals. 

Black market products such as oils, tinctures and plant matter may contain unknown ingredients that can put people at risk. It is also difficult to monitor appropriate dosages, and there are risks of interactions and reactions with other medicines.

Once the scheme is operational, patients will be able to speak with their medical practitioners about the benefits and risks of medicinal cannabis, and whether it may be appropriate to treat their medical conditions.


Clinical trial of synthetic cannabidiol

Victoria will take part in a ground-breaking international clinical trial of a new medicine to treat paediatric patients with refractory epilepsy.

The Austin Health has signed on to be part of a clinical trial of synthetic cannabidiol developed by a US pharmaceutical company, Insys Therapeutics Inc.

The international clinical trial is investigating whether the medicine will be effective in treating certain types of childhood epilepsy. It is made from a synthetic version of a therapeutic compound usually found in the cannabis plant, and the trial will investigate appropriate dosages within a small group of patients.

This clinical trial will potentially provide another treatment option for patients whose quality of life is severely compromised by ill health.

The trial in Australia will be led by Austin Health’s Director of Paediatrics, Professor Ingrid Scheffer, who is a world expert on paediatric neurology and whose research group was the first to uncover a gene for epilepsy.

Please note that before being accepted into any new drug trial, the doctors running the trial must be sure that it is as safe as possible for you or your child to be in the trial. Also in order to scientifically prove if a drug works, only some types of epilepsy will be studied and certain requirements must be followed.

For example, participants must:

•be from 1 to 17 years old

•have epilepsy that is not controlled by existing medication

•have tried 3 or more drugs to treat their epilepsy without success

•not have taken any cannabis or cannabis extracts in the last 30 days

•be from 9 to 90 kg in weight

•be in generally good health.

This is not the complete list of requirements to enter the drug trial and others would be discussed with the trial staff in detail should you still be interested and eligible.

Patients who are interested in participating in the trial should first speak to their doctor. For further information about the trial, contact the Medicinal Cannabis Taskforce on (03) 9096 7768.

Minister for Health Jill Hennessy welcomed the bill passing.

“Children with severe epilepsy will now be able to legally access this lifesaving treatment from as early as 2017.”

“It is absolutely heartbreaking to see families having to choose between breaking the law and watching their children suffer — and now, thanks to our groundbreaking legislation, they won’t have to.”

Minister for Agriculture Jaala Pulford revealed a small-scale, strictly controlled cannabis cultivation trial at a Victorian research facility was set to begin in April.

“We are on track to deliver on our promise to make medicinal cannabis available to Victorian patients in exceptional circumstances, with the first cultivation trial about to get underway,’’ she said.

Patients must suffer severe epileptic seizures, muscle spasms resulting from multiple sclerosis, severe pain and nausea arising from cancer or HIV/AIDS or chronic pain approved by two specialists.

The new law comes after the Victorian Law Reform handed down 42 recommendations last year including how to dispense the drug through pharmacies to patients who have been prescribed treatment by a medical specialist.

Victorian patients and their families will be able to legally access medicinal cannabis in exceptional circumstances.

Source: Herald Sun,  Alex White April 12th 2016


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