There is passive progress on the legal use of medical cannabis – Associate Health Minister Peter Dunne has said he would consider allowing it’s use in New Zealand.
If medical cannabis is effective Dunne will back it
The Government is currently reviewing national drug policy and laws and while Mr Dunne won’t support legalising recreational use he is taking a wait and see approach on medicinal marijuana.
He wants proof of extensive, approved testing processes and says it depends entirely on whether it’s effective.
Three state governments in Australia are taking a more active approach to investigating it’s use.
Queensland and Victoria join New South Wales on medical cannabis trials
ABC news reports that medical cannabis trials are being supported by three states in Australia. The Queensland and Victorian state governments have joined forces with New South Wales to take part in medicinal cannabis clinical trials. The NSW Government introduced the scientific trials last year to help treat patients with drug-resistant and uncontrollable epilepsy.
But the lack of research is a problem.
The American Academy of Pediatrics states that while cannabinoids may have potential as therapy for a number of medical conditions, they do not recommend their use until more research can be done.
It may seem incomprehensible that a plant that has been used for millennia for medicinal purposes has had insufficient research done on it’s effectiveness and it’s negative effects. There has been some formal research:
The Institute of Medicine, run by the United States National Academy of Sciences, conducted a comprehensive study in 1999 assessing the potential health benefits of cannabis and its constituent cannabinoids. The study concluded that smoking cannabis is not to be recommended for the treatment of any disease condition, but that nausea, appetite loss, pain and anxiety can all be mitigated by cannabis.
While the study expressed reservations about smoked cannabis due to the health risks associated with smoking, the study team concluded that until another mode of ingestion was perfected providing the same relief as smoked cannabis, there was no alternative.
Citing “the dangers of cannabis and the lack of clinical research supporting its medicinal value” the American Society of Addiction Medicine in March 2011 issued a white paper recommending a halt on use of marijuana as medication in the U.S., even in states where it had been declared legal.
There’s a reason for a lack of large pharma commercial interest:
The study pointed out the inherent difficulty in marketing a non-patentable herb, as pharmaceutical companies will likely make smaller investments in product development if the result is not patentable.
So the problem is money – or rather a lack of money-making potential. That’s a sad reality of modern medicine.
A 2013 literature review found that exposure to marijuana had biologically-based physical, mental, behavioral and social health consequences and was “associated with diseases of the liver (particularly with co-existing hepatitis C), lungs, heart, and vasculature”.
There is insufficient data to draw strong conclusions about the safety of medical cannabis, although short-term use is associated with minor adverse effects such as dizziness. Although supporters of medical cannabis say that it is safe, further research is required to assess the long-term safety of its use.
The opinion of the Food and Drug Administration and many scientists is that some of the many different cannabionoids included in cannabis can have medical value, but not as smoked cannabis and only with controlled and careful prescription and the same testing for safety and effect as other approved drugs, a process that normally takes about 10 to 15 years from start to commercial product.
So Government caution seems to be justified.
“About 10 to 15 years” sounds like a frustrating time period for people suffering now who want drug treatments readily and legally available.
It’s possible that there’s enough research already been done to shorten this period substantially. But it’s tough on people who want something now.
Passive progress offers paltry hope for people desperate for legal medical relief (which incidentally would at least be safer than self administering by smoking pot).