Sunday, May 18, 2008

Pharmaceutical 'Cannabis' Trials To Begin In Australia

So it's okay to use cannabis to deal with the pain and nausea of cancer and AIDS, but only now that the drug is being supplied by a pharmaceutical company :

Doctors will prescribe cannabis-based drugs to cancer, multiple sclerosis and AIDS patients in a planned NSW Government trial.

NSW Health Minister Reba Meagher will write to Federal Health Minister Nicola Roxon in the next few weeks for permission to import and trial a drug expected to be Sativex, which delivers cannabis compounds through an oral spray.

"While the Iemma Government is opposed to the legalisation of marijuana, we do support a therapeutic trial of a cannabis-based drug," a spokeswoman for Ms Meagher said.

The Australian Medical Association welcomed the trial.

"We believe medicinal cannabis may be of benefit in HIV-related wasting and cancer-related wasting," said chairman of the association's public health committee Dr John Gullotta, adding that it might also relieve nausea and vomiting in cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy.

The Cancer Council NSW welcomed the move.

UK company GW Pharmaceuticals, the manufacturer of Sativex, grows cannabis then extracts cannabinoids CBD and THC. "The formulation is believed to enhance the pain relief of THC while modulating the unwanted psychotropic and other THC-related side effects, such as tachycardia [rapid heartbeat]," the company says.

It's hardly different at all from natural cannabis, with the exception that the Sativex formulation has been patented, which is something no pharmaecutical company has been able to deal with the real thing.

The support from the AMA and the Cancer Council is extremely positive for the case for medicinal cannabis, and will go a long way to tamping down the conservative hysteria that erupts every time someone dares to suggest that cannabis might actually be the wonder drug it has been claimed to be for thousands of years.