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This site is under construction. Permanently.
Cannabis has been in the spotlight over the last three or four years in the run-up to and following statutory changes that have ‘legalised’ the stuff in Australia for research and – eventually – for (authorised) use as a treatment.
It is, these days, something of a cause célèbre, mainly due to media interest in those forced to act outside the law, often campaigning tirelessly for access to what for some is, quite literally, a life-saving drug with no alternative available. Yes, it is that important.
And it’s worth keeping in mind, because cannabis – with all its baggage – is becoming the problem child of modern day medicine.
It has split expert opinion. It has given politicians a headache. It has galvanised an entire movement.
But why the sudden excitement? What is all this about?
These were questions we asked ourselves in the course of what began as a small research project and which in the end gave rise to this site.
Type ‘cannabis’ into Google and you get over 73 million results. Narrowing it down – let’s try ‘Medicinal Cannabis’ – well, that gives you over 5.5 million. And the yet more specific ‘Medical Cannabis Australia’ will return well over one and a half. Million again, but of course.
Quite a lot of results, and navigating such a morass, even a little of it, took what seemed like an age.
During the process though, we got hooked. Here were some amazing stories about amazing people – or rather, quite ordinary people in exceptionally difficult, sometimes heartbreaking circumstances – doing extraordinary things.
And doing them with a drug that seemed pretty incredible too – one that for decades has been widely (if not lawfully) available, usually for getting high.
And therein lies one of the issues – the connotations.
Cannabis has got an image problem and because of it legislation and regulation (and to a degree public perception) have failed to keep pace with science.
So what many are unaware of – including within the medical and academic communities – is that an ever maturing branch of study, cannabinoid science and therapeutics, is proving itself at the frontier of some of the most exiting and promising areas of clinical research seen in decades.
Which may be a problem for ‘vested interests’ because it’s hard to patent a plant; still, the discoveries being made may even require a change in the way we think about medicine and those who don’t like it will have to come kicking and screaming.
But making sense of the vast ocean of information at the end of those one and a half million links, trying to put at least some of it in some kind of order, that’s what this site seeks to do.
It’s intended for anyone with an interest in the topic though even before we start it’s acknowledged an entire cohort of souls exist whose knowledge and expertise far exceeds ours and always will: the patients and carers forced to research and investigate the subject as if their lives or those of their loved ones depended on it – because they actually did and still do.
We also want to separate medicinal cannabis from recreational use: the two are entirely different and need to be viewed as such, although equally, it needs to be said, almost everything most of us have been led to believe by ‘the Establishment’ on the matter has little basis in fact.
In terms of the site though, what we’ve done – as best we can – is sketch out some background on all this, tracing how the recent legislation came about and some of the issues involved, including at State and Territory levels.
We’ve also looked at the arguments – specific to Australia, but commonly found elsewhere – that surround weed and its medical use, especially in the areas of clinical evidence and research and how best the drug can be regulated. Often such debates have been heated which continues to be the case.
Importantly, we don’t seek to reproduce or replicate existing information, but rather to guide people to it, hence the user is encouraged to browse away from the site at just about every turn.
So the most critical things then are links (‘Signposts’) – lots of them, to all kinds of different, original resources: news stories, documents, articles from learned journals, films, papers, personal experiences and more. They’re presented within the site’s text which is there to provide context so the reader can delve more deeply as and where they see fit.
The site itself is divided into five main sections, two of which are – and will always be – ‘under construction.’
The first three look back, the ‘History & Background‘ giving an overview of issues surrounding the drug, linking (‘Signposting’) to hundreds of original sources and discussing the people and organisations – government and non-governmental – that play a part in the medical cannabis story. Regulations, old and new, affecting the cultivation, manufacture and use of the drug and products derived from it are explored too, along with some research, here and overseas.
It cannot and doesn’t pretend to be exhaustive – it’s such a vast area the best we can do is scratch the surface. We do however include an ‘improve this article/report broken link‘ function which we encourage people to use to further develop the content and keep the ‘Signposts’ intact. Help with this is very gratefully received!
We next look at States and Territories, since rules governing the drug – including patient access to it – vary between jurisdictions, and again the option to touch up the material or tell us of broken links is included.
The third section attempts to understand the debate that occurred an on the question which to a large extent still persists. This we’ve done by examining in close detail the Federal Government’s Public Inquiry of 2015 set up to investigate the matter. Over 200 Public Submissions were received, as well as evidence from some 43 witnesses over three days of Hearings at the end of the March of that year. Here you can find the position of various organisations, experts and individuals including those for whom cannabis has proven to be a life or death medication as well as those more sceptical of the claims.
The remaining sections should, as we’ve said, be considered a work in progress and will be looking forward rather than back. The buttons on the right of each piece show you how to navigate round each of that section’s sub-pages.
We will always welcome new material, so a ‘Submit an Article’ button is also provided.
Further ‘Information and Resources‘ like new articles, films, videos and talks is also being created and, when we can, a section for healthcare professionals.
We believe an informed opinion carries more weight than an uninformed one – and that knowledge is the key to developing this.
We hope you find the site useful; if by the time you’ve spent a little while here you find yourself becoming moderately conversant with some of the issues then we will have succeeded.