These items in particular are interesting to contrast with those of the ‘Organisations Against’ the Regulator of Medicinal Cannabis Bill and its proposed Regulator. Note also the Submission from the Hon David Ipp which counters that made by PainAustralia, of which the writer is a board member. Mr Ipp, a former Commissioner of the NSW Independent Commission Against Corruption and High Court Judge, wrote saying he did not support his organisation’s submission which was strongly opposed to the Bill.
Other writers within this section, especially Professor Laurie Mather, have long been engaged in the debate – and his gentle criticism of and sound argument against those who ‘claim there is not enough evidence or that the evidence is weak or that there are already sufficient drugs that cater for the pharmacotherapy afforded by cannabis’ should perhaps be stood against the AMA’s Submission 44.
Editors’ Note: Lucy Haslam has been placed among ‘Experts’ because of her leading role in the medical cannabis journey and because of the extent of the knowledge she has amassed. Other campaigners could easily have been placed here too.
Influential thought-leader in field of dug use and mis-use, after whom Penington Institute is named. Author of widely cited Australian Medical Journal article ‘Medical cannabis: time for clear thinking’ (February 2015), attached to submission. Though not specific on establishing a ‘Regulator of Cannabis’ says: ‘Regulated supply of cannabis would be an important next step in the whole field of illicit drug reform‘, and raises concerns about effects of TCH among 15-28 year olds. 4 pages.
A further significant voice in debate, Professor Mather a ‘now-retired chemical and clinical pharmacologist with some four decades of academic research, mainly in the disciplines of anaesthesia and pain medicine’, and ‘author or co-author of a number of peer reviewed papers on cannabis, including one that is seemingly Australia’s first research paper on the chemical composition of cannabis.’ Author maintains evidence (some of which he cites in submission) ‘inarguably demonstrates cannabis to be a useful medication, and ought to be available to Australian patients in need.‘ Also that ‘the evidential literature strongly supports appropriate changes to the law, at both Federal and State levels, to enable cannabis and preparations thereof to be reintroduced into the range of medicines available for the treatment of an already identified number of medical conditions, with sufficient flexibility to enable future uses.‘ Believes the Committee ‘should work to more than permit but to encourage continuing research into the science and medicinal applications of cannabis and its preparations, for both humanitarian and business-related reasons..’ Provides overview of medicinal cannabis use. His co-written rebuttal in the British Medical Journal of a previous article by Professor Wayne Hall and others was cited by the Australian Parliament as a reason for legalising medicinal cannabis. Professor Mather was additionally cited in the Senate Committee’s final Report. 8 pages.
Author represents Agricultural Microbes Pty Ltd, (link currently dead – Nov.2016) a licensed industrial hemp grower in Queensland. Considerable technical knowledge (of chromatography to determine levels of various compounds found in cannabis etc.). Feels ‘a suitable breeding standard could be a person with technical level skills in horticulture or agriculture who has had many years breeding experience with other scientists or qualified scientists who have some breeding experience in breeding cannabis or other dioecious or monoecious crops‘. Concerned about defining standards and to ensure those using medicinal cannabis are immune from prosecution by authorities. Discusses issues over botanical status of cannabis. Many technical references provided. 15 pages.
Authors are all highly qualified academic experts both in drug use/mis-use generally and cannabis specifically, including NDARC and the Cannabinoid Research Group, Brain and Mind Research Institute, University of Sydney. Say proposed Regulator could ‘be more nimble than the TGA in responding to emerging new evidence, helping to fast track research and development activities in cannabinoid medicine.‘ Fully support Bill and point out medicinal cannabis already widely used in Australia and that ‘old attitudes and a restrictive policy environment need to change to keep pace with the new science of medicinal cannabinoids.’ Provides in-depth discussion of cannabis medicine & cultivation and welcomes impact legislation will have on cannabinoid science in Australia. 10 pages.
Organisation is Flinders University-based, Department of Health-funded ‘internationally recognised research centre that works as a catalyst for change in the alcohol and other drugs (AOD) field’, especially where such work fits in with Workforce Development (WFD) principles. Supportive of Bill because of emerging evidence of cannabis as a treatment for some conditions and because ‘by enhancing access to cannabis for research purposes the proposed regulatory arrangements will assist researchers address a number of knowledge gaps concerning the potential role of medicinal cannabis‘. Discusses the organic complexity of plant, possible role of Regulator, scheduling of the substance, co-operation between State & Territory and Federal Governments, community education, avoiding diversion and means of evaluation. 4 pages.
Author is founder of the United in Compassion pressure group and a pivotal voice in the medical cannabis conversation. Makes submission as ‘a parent and carer of a medicinal cannabis user (recently deceased), as an ex Registered Nurse,(25 years’ experience) as the wife of an ex- NSW Police Drug squad officer (35 years’ experience) and as a concerned Australian citizen‘. Briefly explains illness of her son Dan and initial (erroneous) impressions of medicinal cannabis users. Describes how terrible Dan’s treatment was and how cannabis changed their lives. Also how she made contact with academics such as (in Australia) Dr Alex Wodak and Professor Lester Grinspoon in US as well as reading all she could on the subject including NSW General Purpose Standing Committee No. 4 report into the use of cannabis for medical purposes, recommendations of which were rejected by NSW Parliament. Author met with Senators from that Committee and had ‘a great degree of difficulty reconciling the fact that NSW had conducted an extensive enquiry into the use of Medicinal Cannabis, that the committee had made unanimous recommendations which if adopted would have seen medicinal cannabis use by someone like Daniel, acceptable in NSW.‘ Describes how Dan’s story went public and how this led to successful meetings numerous organisations. Argues ‘pain relief is a legitimate use of medicinal cannabis which Australia has largely ignored due to the misconception that pharmaceutical preparations are much safer and more medically acceptable (but that these are) far less safe, more acceptable only within the current inappropriate legal framework and more poorly tolerated by patients than cannabinoids.’ Mentions poppy fields in Tasmania and deaths occurring among trespassers ingesting plants and that such fatal outcomes could not possibly result with cannabis. Mentions huge commercial potential and company AusCann proposing to grow product on Norfolk Island which Federal Government overturned. Then lists points politicians ‘can no longer ignore’, these being: ‘The enormous need and public support from within Australia; the prejudices and obstacles being fabricated by the pharmaceutical industry via the medical sector; the incessant use of Schizophrenia and other psychological harms of cannabis (which) are continually exaggerated and serve to further misinform public policy and encourage fear; the complexities of managing a botanical plant via the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) used as an excuse not to progress with the natural plant. Believes ‘at the very least cannabis should be rescheduled and the immediate needs of the sick should be addressed in tandem with clinical trials‘. Author then describes her own experiences with ‘a few of the hundreds of examples she has come into contact with’ of other carers and / or patients using (illegal) medicinal cannabis and says ‘The Australian Government is failing these very sick children and their families,’ by criminalising them. Says she believes it critical Australia adopts a unified approach to matter, that if a medicinal cannabis scheme is implemented, permitting legal quantities sufficient to meet the needs of the patient is imperative; any medicinal cannabis scheme should include children with epilepsy and other terminal conditions such as cancer. She concludes by mentioning work of Helen Kapalos, a TV journalist who became so interested in the subject she self-funded a film on the subject, information from which, including from ‘many world renowned specialists in Israel’ has, the author says, ‘cemented my personal view that medicinal cannabis is an emerging science which is already yielding great benefits to millions of patients from around the globe‘.
Ends submission saying ‘it is time leadership, common sense and compassion be enacted by the Australian Government and be reflected in updated Australian laws that adequately meet the needs of the Australian people.’ Two attachments with submission, one article from Journal of American Medical Association October 2014 ‘Legalization of Medical Marijuana and Incidence of Opioid Mortality’, the second ‘Medical Cannabis Laws and Opioid Analgesic Overdose’ ibid. 9 pages + 2 attachments.
Writes as board member of PainAustralia and does not support that organisation’s Submission to the Committee (see under Organisations Opposed). Author a retired judge as well as former Commissioner of the Independent Commission of Corruption in New South Wales (ICAC). Supports use of medicinal cannabinoids ‘in palliative care cases, in people with unrelieved cancer pain, and people with severe tissue damage. In other cases, I support the use of medicinal cannabinoids where all other forms of severe pain control have failed‘. Suggests the following: ‘medicinal cannabinoids’ should be defined ‘to the satisfaction of the appropriate authoritative medical bodies‘; these substances should be properly regulated by legislation and distribution controlled. Then supports his submission, first listing reasons for ‘any rational objection’ to use of medicinal cannabis, which, he says can only be that: it does not relieve pain; it could be harmful; it could lead to addiction or otherwise be harmful to society. Discusses – and de-bunks – each in turn mentioning medical bodies which have refused to support use of medical cannabinoids for the reason ‘it is difficult to determine whether the pain is caused by the cancer itself or the treatment for the cancer‘, an argument he contends ‘defies common sense.’ Makes clear he is writing as a response to PainAustralia’s submission. 4 pages.
Supports Bill as an anaesthetist and doctor and believes the real problems with legalising medicinal use of cannabis lie not with finding clinical evidence which already clearly demonstrate efficacy of drug but in ‘the methods of approval, licensing and prescription’. ‘There have been so many hopes over the years with regard to medical cannabis, and most have led nowhere,’ he concludes. 1 page.
Author ‘one of a very few clinically trained medical professionals in Australia with experience in growing, extracting and administering cannabis medicines’. Discusses 80% success rates among recipients (sufferers of Dravet Syndrome) of his ‘standardised extracts of a CBD dominant cannabis’. Also his approaches to NSW Government, international prohibition of plant, and says ‘the issue of THC dominant cannabis needs to be faced squarely.‘ Deals with matter of supply and possible role of pharmaceutical industry plus experience from overseas as well as Federal Government’s attitude toward hemp seed as human food. 3 pages.
Authors Mr Pagliazzi and Mr Abdul Rehman represent ‘newly established working group for research on medicinal cannabis, the European Network for Research on Therapeutic Cannabis’ which supports the Bill with additional support from Professor Terence John O’Brien (The James Stewart Chair of Medicine and Head of the Department of Medicine, The Royal Melbourne and Western Hospital at The University of Melbourne) and Dr Tina Soulis (General Manager at Neuroscience Trials Australia). Believe ‘there is an absolute need to create a lawful regulatory environment‘ using Good Practice Guidelines in agriculture, manufacture and pharmacology. Conclude: ‘Because of a specific market analysis of the demand for medical cannabis by patients, it appears that the licensing and authorisation required to fulfil this demand should not be limited to few entities. It should be available to a wide group of private and public institutions such as interested private companies, research institutes and universities with the aim to cover the procurement of the number of patients defined by epidemiology studies in order to produce the raw material necessary for scientific research.’ Provide 7 pages of appendices discussing quality control, educative school programmes and security as well as a case study ‘Paediatric Epilepsy desperate need for controlled clinical trials.’ 10 pages.