Sick ‘will mull op­tions’

Cockburn Gazette - - NEWS - Bryce Luff

AN AD­VO­CATE for the le­gal­i­sa­tion of medic­i­nal cannabis be­lieves it could be more than 12 months be­fore pa­tients are able to ac­cess it, tempt­ing them to source it via al­ter­na­tive chan­nels.

Medic­i­nal cannabis be­came a con­trolled pre­scrip­tion drug on Novem­ber 1, open­ing the door for its use as a treat­ment in strict cir­cum­stances.

Its use will be heav­ily con­trolled, with a pre­scrip­tion needed and only phar­ma­cists able to dis­pense it.

But de­spite Health Min­is­ter John Day say­ing medic­i­nal cannabis prod­ucts could be avail­able in early 2017, Epilepsy As­so­ci­a­tion of WA chief ex­ec­u­tive Suresh Ra­jan be­lieves a num­ber of fac­tors will push that back to 2018. One of those is the fact any doc­tor wish­ing to pre­scribe medic­i­nal cannabis would need ap­proval from the Ther­a­peu­tic Goods Ad­min­is­tra­tion and an ex­pert ad­vi­sory com­mit­tee, which is yet to be es­tab­lished.

He said it would also take time for lo­cal man­u­fac­tur­ers to ap­ply for a li­cens­ing per­mit, while months will be needed to pro­duce and test a suit­able prod­uct.

He added Perth doc­tors would be hes­i­tant to im­port it from over­seas.

“We’re happy but there is still work to be done,” he said, say­ing he was be­hind the drug’s use be­cause it had been shown to re­duce sever­ity and fre­quency of seizures.

“The process of grow­ing, pro­duc­ing and mak­ing sure it’s a suit­able prod­uct will mean it’s 2018 be­fore it can be used by a pa­tient.

“We could im­port it but it is costly and doc­tors will be loath to pre­scribe an over­seas prod­uct.”

Aus­tralian Med­i­cal As­so­ci­a­tion WA Pres­i­dent An­drew Miller said pre­lim­i­nary find­ings showed medic­i­nal cannabis could be quite ef­fec­tive in help­ing pa­tients suf­fer­ing from spasms as­so­ci­ated with mul­ti­ple scle­ro­sis but backed other drugs pre­vi­ously ap­proved by the Ther­a­peu­tic Goods Ad­min­is­tra­tion for treat­ment of other con­di­tions.

“It must be stressed that medic­i­nal cannabis in the Aus­tralian con­text is not raw cannabis, rather it is one or two of the hun­dreds of chem­i­cals that are found in the plant,” Dr Miller said. “These deriva­tives are not the all-cur­ing won­der drug that some ad­vo­cates claim.”

Mr Day said the State Gov­ern­ment was do­ing ev­ery­thing it could to fa­cil­i­tate ac­cess to medic­i­nal cannabis to ap­proved pa­tients.

“It is im­por­tant that peo­ple fol­low due process and any moves to cir­cum­vent this il­le­gally will be dealt with by ap­pro­pri­ate law en­force­ment,” he said. face­book.com/ Cock­burnGazett­e

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