Victoria’s Andrews Government has decided to legalise access to locally-manufactured medicinal cannabis products for use in exceptional circumstances from 2017, a decision welcomed by the Guild.
The Victorian President of the Pharmacy Guild, Anthony Tassone says: “The Guild welcomes the announcement by the Victorian Government, and looks forward to pharmacy involvement in the implementation of this compassionate decision.
“The Guild supports initiatives in medicines and treatment that have the potential to improve the quality of life of people who are chronically or terminally ill and who are not responding to other treatments,” Tassone says.
The Victorian Law Reform Commission was asked to advise how to amend the law in order to allow people in exceptional circumstances to safely access medicinal cannabis products.
The Victorian Law Reform Commission’s Report on Medicinal Cannabis, tabled in Parliament today, includes 42 recommendations and addresses key issues including:
- cultivation, manufacture and supply of high quality medicinal cannabis products within Victoria;
- patient eligibility;
- appropriate clinical oversight involving specialists, general practitioners, nurses and pharmacists; and
- the need for ongoing research and clinical trials.
“Victoria is leading the way on legalising medicinal cannabis because we know the difference it can make to a patient’s quality of life, and because we know the evidence is growing in support of it as a treatment option in exceptional circumstances,” says Minister for Health, Jill Hennessy.
“Children with severe epilepsy will be the first to access medicinal cannabis in early 2017 because their condition can be life threatening and medicinal cannabis may be their last treatment option.”
The Victorian Government fully accepts 40 of the Commission’s recommendations, plus two in principle.
The Government will begin a cultivation trial at a Victorian research facility which is overseen by the Department of Economic Development, Jobs, Transport and Resources.
The Commission recommends that eligibility for the scheme be based on several conditions and corresponding symptoms:
- severe muscle spasms or severe pain resulting from multiple sclerosis;
- severe pain, nausea, vomiting or wasting arising from cancer, HIV/AIDS (of the treatment thereof);
- severe seizures resulting from epileptic conditions where other treatment options have failed or have intolerable side effects; and
- severe chronic pain with the approval of two specialists.
The state government says accepts the Commission’s recommendation to establish an independent medical advisory committee on medicinal cannabis which will provide advice about expanding eligibility to further patient groups.
It plans to establish an Office of Medicinal Cannabis within the Department of Health and Human Services to oversee the manufacturing, dispensing and clinical aspects of the framework. This office will also help encourage new research and develop clinical guidance, in consultation with the medical profession.
Earlier this year, the Victorian Government partnered with the NSW Government to enable the participation of Victorians in its clinical trials set to commence in 2016. To help build the evidence base, the Government is also working to establish a Victorian-based clinical trial.
The Government will introduce legislation reflecting the Commission’s recommendations by the end of the year.
“I’ve seen first-hand how medicinal cannabis can change people’s lives,” says State Premier Daniel Andrews.
“This landmark reform means Victorian families will no longer have to decide between breaking the law and watching their child suffer.”