New South Wales is further cementing itself at the forefront of global research into medicinal cannabis with $12 million to establish the Centre for Medicinal Cannabis Research and Innovation.
The venture was announced by premier Mike Baird and Minister for Medical Research Pru Goward who said it would “transform the medicinal cannabis sector in NSW by providing a formal network for experts from around the world to share their knowledge and research”.
Barry and Joy Lambert donated $33.7 million last week to the University of Sydney to fund the research of cannabinoids after their granddaughter Katelyn — who suffered from debilitating epilepsy — found relief from the use of cannabis-based medicine.
Last year the NSW government announced a $9 million commitment to three clinical trials using medical cannabis after Baird was inspired by the plight of 24-year-old Daniel Haslam who had used cannabis to alleviate his stage 4 colo-rectal cancer.
“Individual stories are at the heart of our unwavering drive for progress on medicinal cannabis – Dan Haslam’s story is well known and his brave advocacy for this cause has played a large role in making NSW a leader on this issue,” Baird said.
In addition to monitoring the progress of the clinical trials, the centre will also educate the public about the therapeutic potential of medicinal cannabis and “ultimately help translate that research into innovative and effective new medicines to alleviate the suffering of countless numbers of people”.
“Whilst the potential therapeutic qualities of products derived from cannabis have been known for centuries, the centre will advance our understanding in this field and support the production of safe, reliable and affordable cannabis based medicines,” said Baird
Leading the centre will be Professor Mary O’Kane who currently serves as the NSW Chief Scientist and Engineer supported by an advisory board of clinical, academic and industry experts.
Medicinal cannabis research has been high on the national agenda with both Queensland and Victoria making the decision to join New South Wales in decriminalising cannabis for trials involving patients with epilepsy, end-of-life pain and chemotherapy-related nausea.