While there has been movement in the right direction in getting medical cannabis on to the market in Australia there are still some glaring anomalies in its introduction and you would have to ask “Why?”
Where I live in NSW I am on the fringe of some of the best cannabis growing soils and climate in Australia.
The illegal marijuana traffic has had as its capital, the picturesque town of Nimbin.
Visit the town and just stand around for a bit and you will inevitably be offered some “weed” by a casual passer-by.
I have a relative in the drug squad of the NSW Police Force, and he was regularly flying over the region and targeting marijuana plantations.
With the near infrared technology that has been developed, it is almost possible to identify marijuana right down to the molecular level by simply flying over suspected territory.
When I asked the question as to why only particular crops were targeted, he always said that information was always on a “need to know basis”, and he never broke confidentiality.
However, my curiosity remained high because when something doesn’t seem to “fit”, there is usually a totally different reason behind the official statements.
So while the technology on offer seems to indicate that the growing of marijuana could be identified almost immediately by simply flying over the territory with appropriate equipment, the marijuana industry has never appeared to have faltered in its total production in this region.
When some crops have been periodically discovered the police raids are trumpeted over the local news, with mass burning of plants and enormous street values quoted.
But you still have to ask why such crops were allowed to get to the size they were at the point of raiding, and why is it still flourishing?
Now against that backdrop of large-scale production, there have been a small number of compassionate growers supplying only a few doctors with some cannabis for medical purposes.
The process has been that on production of a prescription, one new plant was dedicated to a patient, even labeling the plant growing in the field with the patient’s name.
The process was tightly controlled and no other persons were supplied.
These small plantations have been mercilessly targeted by NSW police, with growers prosecuted and jailed for short periods of time.
These compassionate growers have been willing to risk being branded as criminals by being compassionate.
In the past month, despite all the political talk at state and federal level as to making cannabis legally available, a compassionate grower was raided in the Lismore area and was jailed.
He has been a compassionate grower for nearly a decade.
Because he holds a German passport he has been deemed a flight risk and has been refused bail.
He faces a jail sentence that could result in 10 years of imprisonment.
The group of Brisbane medical specialists he was supplying and their patients now face an uncertain future because many patients had been successfully stabilised on their treatment using cannabis.
So it begs the question: “What is really going on in this murky world of cannabis and what purpose is being served by denying patients access to successful treatment?”
It is suggested that there is ample evidence globally for Australia not to have to reinvent the wheel and conduct clinical trials that replicate others already completed.
On the other hand, some studies may not have been strong enough to satisfy some researchers.
i2P has previously identified the cannabis market as being very important to pharmacists, particularly in a community advisory role and in a compounding role. (see Medical Marijuana – a Role for Clinical Pharmacists? ).
We have also encouraged pharmacists to be involved in applying for grower’s licences and be in the supply chain as much as is possible.
The reasons are very simple.
Because cannabis has shown promise for treating many lifestyle illnesses, cannabis may disrupt traditional markets for global Pharma’s. It has the potential to generate many beneficial clinical conversations.
The European experience is that when cannabis has become legal, shortages have occurred almost immediately and price has escalated.
Pharmacists, by investing along the supply chain would be able to ensure that a regular supply was able to be made to pharmacy patients at a reasonable price.
And all the above is culminating in a Medical Cannabis Symposium that will take place in a few weeks’ time.
NSW premier, Mike Baird, has just returned from a trip to Israel and was accompanied by NSW chief scientists, Mary O’Kane.
Some vocal patient carers under the banner of “United in Compassion” were also in attendance with the above people, during the Israel visit, to evaluate a Medical Cannabis Scheme that oversees 30,000 patients legally receiving medicinal cannabis for a range of serious illnesses and conditions.
Professor Raphael Mechoulam gave a presentation about his work in Israel and the great hope the researchers see for the future of Medicinal Cannabis.
Diseases and conditions like cancer, type 1 diabetes, acquired brain injury and stroke were just a few conditions where cannabis treatment is showing great promise.
Next month, on the 14th and 15th May, United in Compassion is pleased to present the 2nd Australian Medicinal Cannabis Symposium in Sydney.
A highly subsidised price makes this an easily affordable event of world class standard.
Some of the most renowned world experts on Medical Cannabis will travel to Australia from around the globe to share their expertise, experience and excitement about this old/new plant of many uses.
The Symposium is part of a larger Hemp Expo and will be the first of its kind for Australia.
United in Compassion is working very hard to ensure that patients are not kept waiting much longer for medicinal cannabis to be available to them.
Attendance at the Symposium is encouraged, particularly for pharmacists as a means of understanding how best patients can be supported with cannabis treatment.
Blackmore’s is one of the sponsors and it is believed that they are building an investment program to foster their own entry into Australia’s medical cannabis market.
Details of the symposium and its access can be obtained by visiting the following link: http://www.unitedincompassion.com.au/2016-symposium.html