September 28, 2003
The Weekend Australian
People will be able to register to use marijuana for medical conditions in NSW from next year.
The scheme – which caused an outcry when proposed by the Carr Government before last March's state election – won in-principle Federal Government approval last week.
Legislation allowing gravely ill people to use marijuana – most likely in the form of a pill or nasal spray – is due to be released within weeks.
The scheme will be expanded to include both a clinical trial and to offer several categories of gravely ill people immediate use of cannabis.
"The NSW proposal would involve two parallel initiatives, namely clinical research trials and a compassionate access scheme," Federal Parliamentary Secretary for Health Trish Worth said.
A spokesman for Special Minister of State John Della Bosca confirmed the compassionate scheme was being considered to run alongside the clinical trials announced earlier this year.
"It would be limited to a range of very sick people, people with AIDS, Cancer and Multiple Sclerosis," he said.
The NSW Government plans to create an Office of Medical Cannabis in the NSW Department of Health.
To register for the scheme, patients would have to supply a doctor's certificate outlining that conventional treatments for their condition have been unsatisfactory.
A State Government source said one of the key developments being monitored was British research into a marijuana pill, in which scientists have isolated marijuana's active component, THC. A spray to deliver a dose of THC has also been suggested by Premier Bob Carr.
Ms Worth confirmed that the Federal Government supported the scheme as long as it complied with medical guidelines and international narcotics agreements.
"Any clinical research trial would need to meet the Therapeutic Goods Administration's (TGA) requirements for conducting clinical trials in Australia," she said.
The State Government is looking at options to try to avoid growing a marijuana crop themselves.
In Canada a similar trial ran into problems because the Government-grown
marijuana tastes so bad nobody wants to smoke it.
Copyright © 2003, The Australian