Cannabis in Australia: New South Wales commits $9m to medical marijuana trials

Children with epilepsy and people with terminal illnesses will take part

An Australian state is investing millions of dollars into testing the effectiveness of medicinal marijuana.

The New South Wales (NSW) State Government has pledged 9million (£4.4million) Australian Dollars over four years to trials which will involve children with severe epilepsy and adults with terminal illnesses. Patients undergoing chemotherapy who are suffering with extreme nausea and vomiting will also take part, Australia’s 9 News has reported.

Medical Research Minister Pru Goward told the website: “Medical research unlocks new treatment for disease, offers hope, delivers cures, keeps people well and out of hospital.”

"At its best [it] profoundly improves lives."

The use, cultivation and possession of cannabis – including for medicinal purposes - are illegal across the country.

However, NSW’s plans have rekindled interest in the drug’s medical use, with Victoria and Queensland announcing they’d be follow suit in April and staging their own trials.

Politicians in Queensland and Victoria revealed the decision in April, after speaking with NSW leaders, The Guardian reported.

Daniel Andrews, the premier of Victoria, said at the time that he had seen “first-hand” the relief medicinal cannabis could give children with life-threatening illnesses.

Earlier in June, millionaire Sydney financier Barry Lambert and his wife Joy donated $33.7million (£16.5m) to the University of Sydney to help fund research into medical cannabis, after he said it has helped his three-year-old granddaughter live with a rare form of epilepsy.

Mr Lambert said young Katelyn has gone from being hospitalised every few weeks to once in eight months.

“It appears it works miracles for her. But that’s why the research needs to be done to understand the science behind it and to prove beyond doubt that it works and what the long-term impacts would be,” he told Daily Mail Australia.

Previous research by the New York University Epilepsy Centre has shown that elements of cannabis help reduce epileptic seizures.

In another study that may allay the fears of sceptics, scientists in the US have concluded that there is not evidence to suggest that legalising marijuana for medical purposes leads to increased use among teenagers.

The study, published in The Lancet Psychiatry Journal revealed there was no significant difference in adolescent marijuana use in 21 states with medical marijuana laws, before or after laws were introduced.

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