Our strength is in our breadth
Our strength is in our breadth
Northern New South Wales is quickly emerging as a nationwide leader in the production of - and research into - medicinal cannabis.
A New England grower has been given the state's first license to mass produce cannabis oil - a move which should substantially lower prices.
NBN News was given an exclusive tour by the company.
As part of its commitment to environmental responsibility, Murray Meds has constructed a solar array to harness the abundant sunshine they receive at their site in Northern Victoria. This will offset an estimated 500 tonnes of CO2 emissions, which is the equivalent of taking almost 6 cars permanently off the road.
Click picture above for full story - commentary and extracts from the article below:
Last week, the TGA released an interim decision to amend the Poisons Standard to allow cannabidiol to be sold over the counter at a restricted dose to adults.
Although this, at first, may have seemed like good news, new research published in the International Journal of Drug Policy suggests the TGA's plan to allow chemists to sell a month's worth of cannabidiol at a maximum dose of 60mg per day is unlikely to benefit patients.
The paper's co-author, Professor Iain McGregor, academic director of Sydney University's Lambert Initiative for Cannabinoid Therapeutics, said much higher doses were needed to give relief to patients with chronic pain, insomnia, anxiety and epilepsy.
The public is invited to comment until October 13. A final decision is due in late November, with implementation in February. There are considerable issues with this proposed listing as it stands. The experts have commented. Now it's your turn to make your voice heard.
AMCA supports any government measures which legitimately facilitate access to medicinal cannabis. However, its view is that the interim decision of the Scheduling Delegate to down-schedule low-dose CBD (cannabidiol) will not lead to better access.
AMCA notes that the Medicines Scheduling Committee (Committee) did not support any down-scheduling of CBD but the Scheduling Delegate proposed, in an interim decision, to down-schedule CBD to schedule 3 on the following provisos (among others):
1. That CBD be limited to no more than 60 mg/day in oral dosage forms;
2. That the quantity supply be limited to a 30-day supply;
3. That the supply be restricted only to CBD medicines which have been entered in the Australian Register of Therapeutic Goods (ARTG).
The Scheduling Delegate has indicated that further advice will be sought from the Committee at the November meeting on whether the proposed addition to Appendix M of the Poisons Standard to restrict the supply of CBD as a Schedule 3 medicines only to medicines entered into CBD will sufficiently mitigate the concerns raised by the Committee about the safety of CBD.
However, the proposed addition to Appendix M will effectively negate any facilitated access that down-scheduling was intended to achieve. It means that pharmacists will be prohibited from compounding CBD as a Schedule 3, or from obtaining products which are not entered in the ARTG (but which nevertheless must meet certain quality standards), access pathways which are currently available for CBD as a Schedule 4 medicine and for all other Schedule 8 medicines (subject to approval under the Authorised Prescriber Scheme or Special Access Scheme).
AMCA does not agree that pharmacists would only be able to make “informed decisions” in relation to Schedule 3 CBD products that are ARTG-registered. Pharmacists have professional obligations in their practice of pharmacy, which include an obligation to satisfy themselves that the supply of any medicine to a patient is clinically appropriate.
The interim decision suggests that pharmacists are not sufficiently equipped to make decisions about the supply of CBD as an over-the-counter medicine unless that medicine is ARTG-registered.
AMCA strongly disagrees with that proposition; pharmacists who dispense medicinal cannabis products are knowledgeable on their quality, safety and the types of conditions for which they may be suitable. The other proposed measures that have been imposed on supply (60 mg/day dosing, not more than 30 days supply, adult use only, inclusion of mandatory warning statements and supply in child-resistant packaging) are more than sufficient to address any perceived safety concerns.
The requirement that all products need to first be registered in the ARTG, for specific indications, even at such a low dose, is also detrimental to the still-developing Australian industry. There is a paucity of sufficient data to demonstrate the efficacy of the 60mg/day dose proposed by the interim decision, and therefore to meet ARTG registration requirements, large and costly clinical studies would need to be conducted. This is neither feasible nor indicative of an approach intended to facilitate access.
AMCA encourages stakeholders to respond to the interim decision and provide further information to the Committee and Scheduling Delegate so that any further deliberations can refine the interim decision towards a final decision that actually does facilitate access.
by Martin Lane, 9 September 2020
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The Australian Medicinal Cannabis Association (ACMA) welcomes the reformation of the Parliamentary Friends of Medicinal Cannabis
AMCA today welcomed the reformation of the Federal Parliamentary Friends of Medicinal Cannabis.
The group represents an ongoing commitment to ensure progress continues to support both industry and patients to make the changes required to fully realise the goal of a healthy and strong industry combined with affordable patient access.
“We know that each of the members of the Parliamentary Friends of Medicinal Cannabis has the opportunity to positively impact the lives of many Australians, not just economically, but with their health and welfare,” ACMA Chair Lucy Haslam said today.
AMCA is a registered not-for-profit association formed to serve the interests of the broad variety of organisations and individuals across the Australian medicinal cannabis industry. It is focused on supporting a healthy and robust industry, which will ultimately benefit Australian patients.
“A lot has happened since members of our team helped to achieve legalisation of medicinal cannabis in 2016. The challenge is that a lot still needs to be done so that the goals for industry and patients alike can be realised,” Ms Haslam stated.
ACMA will be reaching out to each of the members of the Parliamentary Friends group over the coming days and weeks to share the organisation's goals, work and vision for the sector. Further information will be provided to the membership on this activity shortly.
The vision of AMCA is to see Australia leading the world in quality, affordable and accessible medicinal cannabis. To achieve this, AMCA believes firmly that it is essential to have a broad mix of members with a wide set of skills, in order to meet the needs of each facet of the complex medicinal cannabis industry, especially in these early days of industry development.
For further information, including a copy of the membership of the Parliamentary Friends of Medicinal Cannabis or to become an ACMA member, please email: email@example.com
Speaking to Cannabiz about the launch, Teresa Nicoletti said AMCA represents the broad interests of the industry: “It’s not just about industry players, companies that have a vested interest in setting up medicinal cannabis businesses and have profitability as the goal,” she said. “We look at it more broadly because to have a viable industry, it involves a number of stakeholders including doctors, patients, nurses and caregivers.”
AMCA chair Lucy Haslam: “We’re all very patient centric, our end goal is to get to a place where Australian patients have the best system, where it’s easy to go to a doctor and get a prescription for medicinal cannabis. You can readily afford it. You don’t have to wait ages for it. We want all of that for Australian patients. And I think that’s what’s united us all in AMCA.
"...new top dog Ecofibre, whose business focus may be hemp but its strength in CBD product sales and research make it a cannabis industry force to be reckoned with......"
... as one door closes another opens."
"....in May 2020..THC announced it had acquired cannabis clinic network Tetra Health for $3million
....struck supply deal with MGC Pharma (ASX: MCX), another company on this list.
....linked up with (Cannatrek) to develop and manufacture Cannatrek-branded products"
"In February, (LGP) blazed onto the Australian Stock Exchange, smoking past the competition and landing in the Top 10 of Australia's top cannabis companies."
"Botanix's antibacterial platform.....became the first cannabinoid (CBD) program globally to receive Qualified Infectious Disease Product (QIDP) designation from the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA)."
After Grace* was diagnosed with cancer earlier this year, she turned to medicinal cannabis.
But accessing it through legal medical channels was a challenge: she faced long waiting times and substantial paperwork.
"I was offered through an illegal source where I could get it very quickly, and because my tumours were aggressive and time is of the essence, I decided to opt for the non-medical option," she tells ABC RN's Life Matters.
Grace started to get cannabidiol (CBD) oil sent to her in the post, in an olive oil bottle.
But concerns about the illegalities of the drug started to weigh on her conscience, and she worried about the chemical composition of the CBD oil she was taking.
"If you're obtaining it through a medical source and it's been approved, there's stringent procedures and processes in order to create that oil. Whereas if I'm getting it off an illegal source, it's hard to actually know exactly what I'm taking," she says.
She decided to "have another look at obtaining it through the medical channels" — but in the end, she opted to "stick with the illegal source".
"It just seemed like the most easiest, cost effective option for me," Grace says.
Nicholas Lintzeris, an addiction medicine specialist at the University of Sydney, says Grace's experience is not uncommon.
"The legal system we've had available now has been in place for about four years, and in the early days for the first couple of years we had a very clunky system," he says.
Professor Lintzeris was the lead researcher in a study on how Australians use medicinal cannabis — for everything from chronic pain to mental health conditions.
The online survey of more than 1,300 people found that while cannabis is used widely for medicinal reasons, the vast majority of respondents don't get it from their doctor.
"It was very difficult for patients to be able to find doctors who were knowledgeable and interested, the products were quite expensive, the legal hoops were quite pronounced. There were lots of hurdles, paperwork and so forth," Professor Lintzeris says.
"Most of our respondents were working. They were people who were holding down jobs, mums and dads with kids. So engaging with illicit activities such as that was a concern."
Life Matters listeners shared stories of similar hurdles:
"I have a well noted and long-term chronic pain condition, which has proven relief with CBD. Yet I have been constantly stymied in my attempts to get it prescribed. Thus I am forced to go through the black market with all its problems."
"My husband was prescribed medicinal cannabis for his cancer pain — incredibly expensive — around $350 for a very small bottle that may last a couple of months only. It was very helpful but we just couldn't afford to keep buying it."
"I'd rather be using medical cannabis than opium products any day. But it is so expensive to access legally and yet opium products are subsidised by the government. The addiction story for opioids is horrendous. Cognitive dissonance [is] the right word for our culture."
Access to legal medicinal cannabis is granted under the Special Access Scheme. It's managed by the Therapeutic Goods Administration, and you need a restricted prescription for it.
The application needs to be done by a doctor on your behalf, and it must show you have a medical reason for accessing cannabis.
Between the start of 2020 and May 31, more than 18,000 applications for medical cannabis were approved by the TGA.
Professor Lintzeris says the system has adapted and improved since medical cannabis was legalised at the federal level in 2016.
Initially people would face wait times of up to two months for approval, he says, but now that's more like two to four weeks — and that's not the only change.
"I think we're seeing some changes in the development of the marketplace, as more doctors take up this option and get better educated around what medical cannabis is, as the price of products is reducing and as more products come onto the market, and there's more and more consumers who are getting experienced with legal supplies," Professor Lintzeris says.
But he argues that some areas of the law are still lagging behind.
Driving with THC in your system is a criminal offence, even if you've been prescribed medical cannabis.
The standard advice for cannabis patients is to wait five days before driving, or risk a fine or a suspended licence, but there is ongoing debate about how much impairment THC actually causes.
"There's this inconsistency in Australia where we have a group of drug driving laws that really reflect what made sense for illicit cannabis or drug use," Professor Lintzeris says.
"Unfortunately, a THC-based medicine gets caught up in that drug driving. We have this anachronism in Australia where no other medication that's legally prescribed is subject to the same drug driving issues as medical cannabis."
It's something that proved a huge worry for Grace.
"My biggest concern was that if I was to get pulled over while driving, if I registered for THC in a random drug test, I could lose my licence," she says.
Like Grace, Professor Lintzeris also points out that that if you're self-medicating rather than going through a doctor, there are risks.
"There's no capacity of standardisation of product or quality control, both in terms of what's in this batch, how much THC or CBD in this batch compared to the batch from last month," he says.
Despite the legalisation of medicinal cannabis in Australia, group bodies such as the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP) continue to take a cautious stance on prescribing medicinal cannabis patients, calling for more high-quality research into the safety and effectiveness of it.
The RACGP pointed Life Matters to a statement, which said it doesn't "recommend the use of cannabis products", but does "recognise that a specialist GP may offer to prescribe it to a limited number of patients".
After four months using CBD oil through an illicit producer, Grace is willing to accept the risks.
"I do find that there is little to no side-effects of using the cannabis oil — which was a concern initially — and it's a cost-effective option," she says.
"When I went down that [medical] channel, what I found was that there were a lot of hoops I had to jump through, a lot of paperwork, and a lot of people who had to be involved.
"And even then if I was deemed worthy of the CBD oil, I was going to be sent this particular oil every six weeks.
"But the illegal CBD oil I got straight away, it was very easy to access and cost effective. So I opted to stay using the illegal source."
*Name changed to protect the person's identity.
Legal cannabis growers will be able to export medicinal cannabis and hemp into more overseas markets.
Federal parliament passed a bill on Wednesday to give farmers access to export opportunities in South East Asia, China, Canada and the lucrative US market.
Australia will now be able to certify legitimate exports of narcotic products, helping producers export to countries that need government approval.
Agriculture Minister David Littleproud said certification would provide assurances to trading partners and help farmers.
"This bill will enable agricultural industries to come out firing after the threat of COVID-19 has passed," he said on Wednesday.
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Australians report using medicinal cannabis for chronic pain, mental health and sleep with the majority sourcing cannabis illicitly, despite medicinal cannabis being legal, a new survey from the University of Sydney has revealed.
The results from the Cannabis As Medicine Survey (CAMS:18), conducted by staff at the Discipline of Addiction Medicine in conjunction with the Lambert Initiative for Cannabinoid Therapeutics at the University of Sydney, provide insight into how Australians are using cannabis as medicine.
The results of the previous Cannabis As Medicine Survey (CAMS:16), the biggest national survey of medicinal cannabis users in Australia in more than a decade, provided a snapshot of people self-medicating before any medicinal cannabis use was legalised.
The aim of the two-year follow-up survey was to monitor changes in how Australians were accessing and using medical cannabis following its legalisation in 2016. The survey of 1388 Australians was conducted between September 2018 and March 2019.
Lead author and addiction medicine specialist Professor Nicholas Lintzeris said:
“There continues to be considerable demand for medical cannabis in Australia that has not been completely met by available models of prescription by medical practitioners. The uncertainties experienced by people in the community around the cannabis products they are accessing illegally is a concern.
“However, the few people who report accessing legally prescribed medical cannabis products did have favourable reports, suggesting there is a path forward. I think it is still early days for the Australian medicinal cannabis system.”
Co-author and academic director of the Lambert Initiative Professor Iain McGregor said: “This is an important snapshot into the reality of medicinal cannabis access in the Australian community. There are clearly many Australians with serious medical conditions who are yet to gain official access to medicinal cannabis products, even though they would like such access. These users continue to risk hazards associated with non-standardised cannabis products of unknown origin as well as a possible criminal conviction as a result of their current patterns of self-medication.
“We need to accelerate the pace of change through innovations such as over-the-counter access to CBD (cannabidiol, the chemical found in cannabis plants) products and improved education and guidance for doctors and specialists in this area. Better quality evidence around medicinal cannabis effectiveness, particularly for conditions such as insomnia and depression, is also critical.”
"I missed kids' birthdays, I missed grandkids' birthdays, fishing, going out in the garden," he said.
"I was virtually numb, it got to the stage where nothing really mattered."
"It was pretty much limiting me on anything. It was a major event even to go shopping."
The great grandfather had injured his back while building a friend's house.
Mr Leamer had to give up work and in the mid-90s began taking pain relievers with codeine in them.
Within 18 months, he had moved onto oxycodone and finally, morphine.
"It got to the stage that I couldn't function properly. I couldn't make a coherent sentence," he said.
In northern NSW, Lismore Local Court Magistrate David Heilpern has just retired at the age of 58. In a candid conversation about his working life, its challenges and stresses, he also outlines his misgivings about the NSW drug driving laws which played a big role in his decision to step down.