Legislation to facilitate medical cannabis trials will be introduced into State Parliament today, in another significant step towards the use of marijuana compounds in treating or relieving the symptoms of a range of illnesses and conditions.
Minister for Health David Davis said the Drugs, Poisons & Controlled Substances Amendment (Clinical Trials) Bill will streamline the process to enable properly regulated trials.
“The issues surrounding the use of cannabis compounds for treatment of medical conditions are extremely complex,” Mr Davis said.
“However, the Victorian Coalition Government has listened, particularly to the concerns of parents who believe that some of these products can make a real difference to the health and quality of life of their children.
“We are taking the lead in working with other authorities to ensure clinical trials of some of these cannabis compounds are conducted, while ensuring that they are undertaken in a safe and ethical manner.”
The Victorian Coalition Government has established an Expert Advisory Committee consisting of clinical and regulatory experts to work through the complex clinical and ethical issues and to facilitate appropriately governed trials.
Mr Davis said the Bill will enable registered practitioners to apply for a single authorisation enabling treatment of multiple patients with Schedule
8 or Schedule 9 poisons such as cannabis, as part of a clinical trial.
“Current laws require a registered medical practitioner to apply for a separate permit for every patient to be engaged in a clinical trial, and researchers and other people involved would presently be committing possession and use offences,” Mr Davis said.
“The Bill will ensure that these barriers are removed and that those involved in clinical trials can be clearly authorised.”
Mr Davis said the Bill ensures that only bona fide cannabis-based products of known and standardised quality from recognised pharmaceutical companies that are already approved for medical use overseas or in Australia can be considered for clinical trials.
Mr Davis said he was concerned that parents of severely ill children have resorted to treating their children with unregulated cannabis products, with purportedly positive results, because conventional medicine has not met their needs.
“Products from suppliers that do not meet high standards will not be considered for these clinical trials,” Mr Davis said.
“The participation of patients, including children, in bona fide clinical trials for new cannabis-based medical products has potential to provide positive benefits beyond the immediate future.
“The Napthine Government supports access to pharmaceuticals that are safe and effective, and we commit to removing barriers around safe and effective medications.”