Barriers to clinical trials of medical cannabis will be removed in Victoria.
Health Minister David Davis says the state government wants it to be easier for clinicians to test cannabis for therapeutic purposes and will also consider lifting the ban on cultivating it for medical testing.
He said allowing the regulated cultivation of narcotics for clinical trials in Victoria would help ensure the quality of the product being trialled is of a good standard.
Mr Davis said it was the government’s responsibility to ensure prescribed drugs are safe.
“There are some legislative barriers and there are also some practical barriers and we can work to remove those,” Mr Davis told reporters on Thursday.
“We need reliable doses and we need to ensure that drugs that are prescribed are effective and safe.”
He said a multiple sclerosis drug containing pharmaceutical-grade cannabis extract that has Therapeutic Goods Administration approval will be investigated as a treatment for pain in advanced cancer sufferers. Testing will be conducted in Victoria and other states.
Mr Davis said the government supported this work and similarly structured trials.
The Labor party in Victoria this week announced it would legalise medical cannabis to treat people with extreme health problems if elected on November 29.
The regulation and prescription of cannabis oil, cannabis pills and cannabis tinctures will be examined by the Victorian Law Reform Committee under Labor’s plan, but smoking cannabis for medical purposes would remain prohibited.
Opposition health spokesman Gavin Jennings said Labor supports clinical trials but the government’s announcement it would remove barriers to trials only does half of what is needed.
He said the manufacture, prescription and regulation of medical cannabis involved confused jurisdictional responsibilities and Labor would examine the legal and medical components of the issue simultaneously.
“Minister Davis does not do that and what he has committed to do on behalf of his government today only does part of that story,” Mr Jennings said.