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Old 05-17-2013, 07:27 AM
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Default Cannabis treatment for pain wins MPs' approval

Cannabis treatment for pain wins MPs' approval
Anna Patty
State Political Reporter
May 15, 2013 - 3:31PM

Cannabis for medical use: A NSW Parliamentary committee unanimously supports the use of
cannabis-based products for prescription use. Photo: Rob Homer
A NSW parliamentary committee has recommended the medical use of cannabis for people with terminal illness and AIDS.
If adopted by the government, the measure will allow patients to use up to 15 grams of dry cannabis or its equivalent in cannabis products.
Committee chairwoman Sarah Mitchell, a Nationals MP, said the committee had unanimously supported the use of cannabis-based products or prescription use after considering scientific evidence that cannabis has particular value in the treatment of pain.
She said federal government approval to prescribe cannabis for a small target group should be extended to other groups including patients with terminal illness and AIDS.
"We recognise the risks and negative effects of crude cannabis use, particularly via smoking, and by no means do we endorse the recreational use of cannabis," she said.
"However, the committee considers that on the basis of the available evidence, providing for a very small and specific group of patients to use crude cannabis products for medical purposes legally is both appropriate and compassionate."
Ms Mitchell said the committee concluded that people who are at the end of their lives should not be criminalised for taking steps to relieve severe pain or to stimulate their appetites.
"These people should not be subject to the humiliation and stress of arrest and appearing in court," she said.
The parliamentary committee comprises two members of the National Party, one from the Liberal Party, one from Labor, one from the Greens and one from the Shooters and Fishers Party.
Committee member Adam Searle, a Labor MP, said "as politicians, many issues divide us every day, but on this subject, we put differences aside to address the issue of real human suffering".
"We looked at the evidence from sufferers, carers and clinicians and found their evidence compelling that cannabis and cannabinoid products could play a useful role to ease suffering.
"However, cannabinoid pharmaceutical products are not readily available in Australia and are expensive. This needs to be addressed and this will take time, which is why the committee has recommended that people suffering from terminal illness or AIDS and their carers should be immune from arrest and prosecution."
NSW Labor MP Luke Foley – who initiated the parliamentary inquiry – said members of the upper house "rarely agree".
“When I moved for this inquiry, my motivation was to revive this important policy debate, and for that debate to be evidence based," he said.
“A consensus has emerged among politicians from five parties for a compassionate approach to the use of cannabis by patients for whom cannabis could have a profoundly relieving effect."
Committee member John Kaye, a Greens MP, said members were moved by the plight of people who are experiencing intolerable pain and approaching the end of their life.
"Many of them already use cannabis as a pain relief but have to break the law to obtain and possess the drug. Stress from the fear of prosecution adds to their already appalling suffering," he said.
"The evidence we received was deeply persuasive. Despite every political party and every shade of belief being represented on the committee, the recommendations were unanimous.
"It is now up to Premier Barry O'Farrell and Opposition Leader John Robertson to join with all members of the committee to bring some relief to the pain and suffering for people who are dying."
Saxon Smith, vice president of the Australian Medical Association NSW, said the AMA does not endorse the medical use of cannabis, but is willing to consider the recommendations of the parliamentary review.
"While the AMA doesn't formally endorse the use of medical cannabis we recognise the strong submissions and support of the benefits to seriously ill patients and AIDS patients," Dr Smith said.
"The long-term side effect profile is unknown in patients. We know cannabis as a recreational drug is very harmful.
"People have a very individualised response to cannabis. We don't want these patients to have intolerable side effects and potential psychosis on top of their significant medical illness."
Dr Smith said controlling the use of cannabis would need to be thoroughly addressed. He said an education campaign would also be needed to enable doctors to understand the certification process involved.
Sally Crossing, spokeswoman for Cancer Voices NSW, said she was delighted with the committee's recommendations.
"We welcome it very warmly because it was what we suggested and because they have gone to some lengths to turn their recommendations into practice," she said.
"We were happy to see their strong recommendation for pharmaceutical cannabis products which could go through the Therapeutic Goods Administration process, which takes a long time.
"We also welcome their short-term proposal to make raw cannabis available in carefully controlled ways to carefully selected people."
Ref:Cannabis treatment for pain wins MPs' approval

Final Report, The use of cannabis for medical purposes
Report Date Wednesday 15 May 2013
Date Tabled Wednesday 15 May 2013
Ordered Printed Wednesday 15 May 2013
Government Response Request made to Govt for a Response: Wednesday 15 May 2013 (Mandatory)
Government's Response Due: Friday 15 November 2013
Context Use of cannabis for medical purposes (inquiry), GPSC 4 Committee

Download the Report
This is the final report for the inquiry into the use of cannabis for medical purposes tabled on 15 May 2013. Executive summary and recommendations.pdf To download this report click on the document icon(s) below. Final Report - The use of cannnabis for medical purposes.pdf

Government Response

On 15/05/2013 the Committee required the Government to provide a response by 15/11/2013. No Government response has been received as yet.

Ref:Final Report, The use of cannabis for medical purposes - NSW Parliament

Executive summary
This unanimously adopted report makes five important recommendations to address the issue of the use of cannabis for medical purposes.

Summary of recommendations

Recommendation 1

That the Minister for Health write to the Commonwealth Minister for Health and Ageing, expressing in principal support for:
• the timely, evidence based expansion of access to approved cannabis pharmacotherapies by additional patient groups, including those suffering from chronic pain for whom existing pain management is not effective
• further clinical trials of pharmaceutical cannabis products to continue to build this evidence base, and
• approved pharmaceutical cannabis products to be affordable to patients.

Recommendation 2

That the NSW Government introduce an amendment to the Drug Misuse and Trafficking Act 1985 to add a complete defence to the use and possession of cannabis, so as to cover the authorised medical use of cannabis by patients with terminal illness and those who have moved from HIV infection to AIDS. The features of this system would include:
• provision of a complete defence from arrest and prosecution for the use of cannabis and possession of up to 15 grams of dry cannabis or equivalent amounts of other cannabis products, and equipment for the administration of cannabis, by the patient
• provision of a complete defence from arrest and prosecution for the possession and supply of up to 15 grams of dry cannabis or equivalent amounts of other cannabis products, and equipment for the administration of cannabis, by the patient’s carer
• that the defence be restricted to persons listed on a register of ‘authorised cannabis patients and carers’, with eligibility contingent upon certification by the patient’s treating specialist medical practitioner that the patient is diagnosed with a specified condition
• the defence would only apply where the use and supply of cannabis does not occur in a public place, and
• a review of the amendment commence within three years of the date of commencement.

Recommendation 3

That, consistent with Recommendation 2, the NSW Ministry of Health establish and administer a register of ‘authorised cannabis patients and carers’ certified by the patient’s treating specialist medical practitioner and issue patients and carers on this register with a photo identity card verifying that they qualify for exemption from arrest and prosecution.

Recommendation 4

That the NSW Ministry of Health and Department of Attorney General and Justice give further and detailed consideration to the issues surrounding lawful supply of crude cannabis products for medical purposes.

Recommendation 5

That the NSW Ministry of Health implement an education strategy to accompany the legislative amendment set out in Recommendation 2 to inform the medical profession, community and relevant patient groups about the intentions and provisions made under the amendment. This should include information for patients about the harms that accompany smoking cannabis, and alternative forms of administration.


ABC Radio National -- PM
Calls to legalise medical marijuana in NSW
Will Ockenden reported this story on Wednesday, May 15, 2013 18:46:00

PETER LLOYD: A New South Wales parliamentary inquiry has recommended that terminally ill patients should be legally allowed to possess and use marijuana for medical purposes.

The committee included politicians from across the political spectrum, and the report was unanimous. But it stopped short at recommending that marijuana be decriminalised for personal use.

The NSW Government says it is reviewing the recommendations, but it won't do anything that will weaken the police's ability to crack down on illegal drugs.

Will Ockenden reports.

WILL OCKENDEN: Justin Brash says he's used marijuana for medical reasons for the last two decades years.

JUSTIN BRASH: I've been HIV positive for at least 25 years so I was diagnosed 25 years ago.

It helps you tolerate the antiviral therapies, if you're prone to nausea it helps you with nausea, which I am.

WILL OCKENDEN: But he says buying it is a stressful experience.

JUSTIN BRASH: It's probably riskier walking around town, with cannabis on you now than it was a number of years ago, because of sniffer dogs and things like that.

WILL OCKENDEN: There's a new push in New South Wales to try and change that. A NSW parliamentary committee has unanimously recommended that marijuana for medical reasons be legalised for amount under 15 grams.

Committee chair Sarah Mitchell is from the Nationals.

SARAH MITCHELL: Given that there is currently only one pharmaceutical cannabis product available in Australia, the committee recommends that provision be made for a very small and specific group of patients to legally use crude cannabis products for medical purposes.

WILL OCKENDEN: The committee's report recommends people suffering from terminal illnesses, and those with AIDS, be allowed conditional access to marijuana. It's a position one might usually expect from those who think of themselves as social progressives. In this case, not so. The committee included politicians from the National Party, the Liberal Party, the Shooters and Fishers Party and the Greens and the ALP.

Committee member Trevor Khan from the Nationals says it's significant that it was a unanimous report.

TREVOR KHAN: It was clear from that evidence - very clear from that evidence - that there is a very targeted group who we should make appropriate avenues for when it comes to the use of cannabis.

WILL OCKENDEN: However the recommendations aren't open-slather. They don't recommend the decriminalisation of marijuana, and they narrowly define which medical conditions would apply.

Committee member Amanda Fazio from Labor says only specific doctors would be able to prescribe it.

AMANDA FAZIO: I don't think there's any real possibility that what we're recommending, what the committee recommending - will lead to any greater use of cannabis in the general population.

What it will do, is it will take away that added layer of stress for people who are seriously ill in the target groups that we are talking about, and that layer of stress comes from them having to try to obtain the drugs illegally.

WILL OCKENDEN: The report also stops short at allowing people to grow their own plants, like they can in South Australia. Amanda Fazio says in order to align with international and national drug laws, it would still be illegal to sell marijuana to people with a terminal illness.

AMANDA FAZIO: The exact same situation applies in NSW to the sale of X-rated adult material. It's illegal for people to sell it, but it's not illegal to purchase it.

So I mean, these little messy areas of the law do exist. I think it's simply a fact of recognising that and recommending what is best for people who need alternative therapies.

WILL OCKENDEN: The Greens have long pushed for the decriminalisation of marijuana. But Dr John Kaye says this new push for medical marijuana is for the hundreds of suffering terminally ill people.

JOHN KAYE: It would be a tragedy if we had come this far and the Leader of the Government, the Leader of the Opposition, the Premier failed to take on board these recommendations and failed to move towards a genuine outcome for these people.

WILL OCKENDEN: This issue has come up several times before in New South Wales, but died each time before it made it into law. There are concerns about the push both from elements of the public service and the police.

The drug squad says if medical cannabis were legally available, it could easily be diverted for illegal users. Members of the committee disagree, arguing because supplying the drug would still be illegal, there wouldn't be a surge in production.

Either way, the report has been tabled, and it's now up to the New South Wales Government to respond. Acting Health Minister Kevin Humphries says the Government is reviewing the report, but won't do anything that will weaken the police's ability to crackdown on illegal drugs.

Medical marijuana user Justin Brash urges the Government to make it legal.

JUSTIN BRASH: There's about three or four medications I would have to take if I wasn't taking cannabis. So it's a win for the PBS, it's a win for, god, it's a win for everyone.

PETER LLOYD: Cannabis user Justin Brash ending Will Ockenden's report.

Ref: PM - Calls to legalise medical marijuana in NSW 15/05/2013

NSW government not convinced by marijuana report
By state political reporter Sarah Gerathy and staff
Updated Wed May 15, 2013 4:42pm AEST
The New South Wales Government has hinted it is unlikely to allow terminally ill people to legally use small amounts of marijuana, despite a cross-party parliamentary committee unanimously recommending the move.
A parliamentary inquiry has recommended that terminally ill patients and people with AIDS be allowed to legally possess and use up to 15 grams of marijuana for medical purposes.
Only the patients themselves would be legally allowed to use the drug and their names would be kept on a register after their treating specialist certified they had a relevant illness.
We've put all those (issues) aside to address the issue of real human suffering. NSW Labor MP Adam Searle
The committee has also recommended the state's health minister write to her federal counterpart to express support for the development of more approved and affordable cannabis-based pharmaceuticals.
One of the Labor MPs on the committee, Adam Searle, says it is significant the report was unanimous.
"There are many issues that divide us as politicians," he said.
"We've put all those aside to address the issue of real human suffering.
"It's a short-term solution until such time as pharmaceutical cannabinoid-based products are more widely commercially available."
However, Acting Health Minister Kevin Humphries has indicated it is the issue of supply that is a stumbling block.
He says a medical marijuana trial announced by Labor premier Bob Carr in 2003 fell over because those concerns could not be addressed.
Mr Humphries says the Government will consider the recommendations, but would not agree to anything that will weaken the ability of police to crack down on drugs.
Campaigners in favour of the medical use of marijuana say they are not surprised by the report's findings.
Hemp Party president Michael Balderstone says it is an encouraging move.
"It's unanimous from the committee, which I'd have been surprised if it wasn't," he said.
"They had so many people plead with them on compassionate grounds and they've been touched.
"Clearly they're recommending the NSW Government makes a start, and that would be wonderful.
"Even if it's a tiny crack in the door."
Ref:NSW government not convinced by marijuana report - ABC News (Australian Broadcasting Corporation)

"Care about what other people think and you will always be their prisoner." -Lao Tzu

all the best,
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Old 05-17-2013, 12:25 PM
Senior Member
Join Date: Jul 2010
Location: Misty Mountains Victoria
Posts: 1,758

Good one Shanti.... It's about bloody time too. Now they should legalize it for everyone...
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Old 05-17-2013, 12:52 PM
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Join Date: Feb 2013
Posts: 1,074

well it's good to know a few diplomats have put aside their"political views"on the plant(or the people around it I should say) to address the issue of human suffering.

Withholding freedom from the general mass is one thing,but taking the sick's name in vain....
If people are desperate for help or relief,shouldn't the ones we adorn with such praise provide for all?

It can feed those who can't eat.
It can ease those who can't sleep.

This article is positive though.A crack in the door may not be sufficient for everyone to go through,but I believe it could be instrumental in helping those who're in dire need for the time being.Maybe public intervention can stop the ridiculous price for medicine.It's not like somebody who lives on assisted income can provide hundreds weekly for something they'll send up in smoke!

The world has miles to go,but if the man'll give it an inch,well that's an inch it didn't have!Congratulations to those who've made the sober decision of putting aside the bullshit,..,the sick look up to you for guidance,and to let them smoke isn't ridiculous.It might not stop the inevitable,but quality of life is what the socially responsible are paid to provide.(especially to the ill!)

here's to a good decision

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Old 05-17-2013, 04:17 PM
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Join Date: Aug 2011
Posts: 1,387
Default Look Forward

Something that always bothers me is the use of the argument “long term side effects of cannabis use are unknown”, especially when talking about its use for pain and comfort management with patients that have an incurable or terminal condition. What difference do the long term side effects make here? I don’t mean that to sound harsh, especially to the people that are suffering, but I feel that it is a very lame argument. Also, because of the prohibited or restricted status of cannabis in most parts of the world, it is difficult for quality (and long term) research to be done.
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