MEDICINAL marijuana will be grown in New South Wales after authorisation was granted by the federal government to conduct medicinal cannabis cultivation research.
NSW is the first state to be given approval to grow cannabis under licence from the federal government as part of research into the best way to cultivate the plant for medical use.
That step will lay the foundation for private growers, like Mid North Coast resident Tony Bower, to supply medical marijuana in the future.
The authorisation under Commonwealth law ensures Australia meets its international obligations under the United Nations Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs.
The cultivation research will be conducted in a new, state-of-the-art, high-security facility, under strict protocols.
Mr Bower, who supplies cannabis oil to children with epilepsy, autism and other conditions, said it is a step in the right direction.
Mr Bower said he does not grow marijuana, but does sell cannabis oil medicine to several patients across Australia.
“The medicine itself is legal, so the only thing that is not is the growing of the plant,” he said.
“Because I have the medicine made now and I am not growing the plant, I am not doing anything wrong. It won’t have any affect on current patients that I treat.”
Mr Bower said he has enough medicine to last another six to eight months. He would also like his patients to be included in trials undertaken by the government.
“We’re hoping to get some of our patients, who are kids, to move in on the trials,” he said.
“It’s still a great step forward for medical marijuana use. Any movement is good movement.”
A study by the Sydney University Business School found that legalising medical marijuana in Australia would create an industry worth $150 million, and demand for 8000 kilograms a year of plant material.
Private companies will be able to apply for licences under the scheme at a later date.
Whitelaw family praises cannabis oil
FOR Michelle Whitelaw and her family, medicinal cannabis products are the meaning between life and death.
Without them, her epileptic son would suffer up to 500 crippling seizures a day.
Since starting on cannabis oil last year, Jai rarely suffers any seizures.
Eleven year old Jai has three rare forms of the disease: LKS (Landau Kleffner Syndrome), CSWS/ESES (Continual Spike Wave Syndrome) and PLS (Psuedo Lennox Syndrome).
“I really hope the research and licensing will benefit people like Tony Bower, otherwise we are still stuck,” Michelle said.
“Will our supply continue? Will it end up costing us more money?
“There are a lot of questions that aren’t being answered but we are keeping our fingers crossed.”
Jai was diagnosed in January 2010 and was suffering badly, with no medical expert able to help.
"I took him home and they said there was nothing else they could do for him," Mrs Whitelaw said.
Jai is now walking, talking, attending school and able to write since Michelle .
"It's just amazing. This is all because of medical cannabis medicine.”
Minister backs cannabis research
MINISTER for Medical Research Pru Goward said authorisation was the key to developing a world-leading medicinal cannabis research program in New South Wales.
“We have invested $21 million in a scientific approach to further our understanding about the safe and effective use of cannabis-based medicines,” Ms Goward said.
“Our end goal is that we will see proven, standardised and legal pharmaceutical cannabis products that can be trusted and prescribed by health professionals.”