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Australia: No rush to legalise medical cannabis


The Daily Telegraph Australia

Tuesday 26 Dec 2017

A GP hotline NSW Health claims will “cut the red tape” for medical cannabis will take advice from a doctor who has said we should “stop the hype” around the drug and there is “no rush” to legalise it.

Medical cannabis advocates are concerned at the involvement of Professor Jennifer Martin in the $6 million statewide advisory service aimed at helping doctors get quicker access to the drug.

It comes after GPs told The Daily Telegraph they’d “given up” trying to prescribe medical cannabis more than a year after it had been legalised because they were continuously “being blocked” by NSW Health.

NSW Health claimed the advisory service would the “cut red tape” and help terminally ill patients get quicker access to the drug.

But The Daily Telegraph can now reveal the hotline will take advice from the Australian Centre for Cannabinoid Clinical and Research Excellence, headed by Prof Martin. The centre is also being given $3 million dollars in funding under the program.

Professor Martin has written several opinion pieces urging a “go slow approach” to medical cannabis.

”There seems to be a sudden rush to make it available, as if the world was going to run out, or the evidence to use it was new and overwhelmingly good. Sadly, none of this is a reality,” she wrote in one opinion piece for Fairfax last year. “If marijuana provided such a uniquely beneficial drug, why haven’t the major pharmaceutical companies been into it?”

In an email response to questions from The Daily Telegraph, she confirmed ACRE would advise the hotline when requested, so doctors can have “the most up-to-date clinical and medicines evidence”.

Medical cannabis advocate and United In Compassion founder Lucy Haslam said she was worried about Prof Martin’s involvement.

Ms Haslam said terminally ill patients were being forced into the black market because it was too difficult to obtain medical cannabis via NSW Health.

Medical Organic Cannabis Australia director Alessandro Sorbello said Australia had a potential to be a leader in the field. He said the evidence of its effectiveness was “already there”.




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