Newsbrief: New South Wales Medical Marijuana Approval 10/3/03

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There is better news to report from Australia's New South Wales, where the federal government has granted in-principle approval for a medical marijuana program proposed by the Australian Labor Party government of Premier Bob Carr. Under the NSW plan, people suffering from a set of diseases would be able to register to use medical marijuana. The plan would also allow for clinical trials of medical marijuana's efficacy and establish an Office of Medical Marijuana within the NSW Department of Health.

"The NSW proposal would involve two parallel initiatives, namely clinical research trials and a compassionate access scheme," said Federal Parliamentary Secretary for Health Trish Worth in announcing the federal approval. Worth said that the federal government would support the plan as long as it met medical guidelines and did not violate international treaties. "Any clinical research trial would need to meet the Therapeutic Goods Administration's requirements for conducting clinical trials in Australia," she said.

Legislation to implement the medical marijuana plan is being drafted and is expected to be introduced within weeks. It may specify that marijuana be in the form of a pill or nasal spray, according to a report in the Australian newspaper the Advertiser. But while companies such as Britain's GW Pharmaceuticals are conducting tests on such products, they are not yet ready for market.

Patients suffering from a range of diseases would be able to register to use medical marijuana upon supplying a doctor's certificate saying that conventional therapies for their conditions have been ineffective, an unnamed NSW spokesman told the Advertiser. "It would be limited to a range of very sick people, people with AIDS, cancer and multiple sclerosis," he said.

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