Medicinal cannabis research still needed

THERE is still much to learn about the benefits of medicinal cannabis, a NSW Health spokesperson says.

The NSW Government is currently funding clinical trials to advance the evidence base of the therapeutic potential of medicinal cannabis.

“This research, and other research internationally, should enable better understanding of the efficacy of medicinal cannabis and also of unwanted side effects, ideal dosages and frequencies, formulation, delivery and appropriate cannabinoid content,” the spokesperson said.

The spokesperson said, however, that the cannabis plant has: “Shown some potential for relieving symptoms of diseases as diverse as nausea associated with cancer, spasticity in neurological conditions, reducing seizures in epilepsy and reducing pain”.

Medicinal cannabis products can be prescribed under NSW and Commonwealth law.

“Nabiximols (Sativex®) is a cannabis-based product that has been on the Australian Register of Therapeutic Goods (ARTG) for some time, although it is not listed on the PBS,” the spokesperson said.

“Doctors are able to apply to NSW Health and the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) to seek approval to prescribe other cannabis-based medicines that are not on the ARTG, in appropriate circumstances.

“NSW Health and the Centre for Medicinal Cannabis Research and Innovation are available to support practitioners interested in prescribing medicinal cannabis products.”

Currently, Orange Health Service is participating in the NSW Government’s cannabis trial for chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting.