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19 Apr 2016

Victorian children with severe epilepsy will become the first in the nation legally able to be treated with medicinal cannabis under laws passed by the State Parliament.

Victoria has become the first State to act after the Federal Government opened the way for its legal use earlier this year, enacting legislation that makes it lawful to manufacture, supply and access medicinal cannabis products.

Victorian Health Minister Jill Hennessy said children with severe epilepsy would be the first group to have access to the drug, beginning next year.

“We’re starting with these children with severe epilepsy, whose lives have been shown to improve so significantly, because we know these children often don’t make it [into] adulthood,” Ms Hennessy told the ABC. “We want to improve their quality of life.”

The Minister said the move would remove the dilemma faced by parents of children with severe epilepsy, who have faced a choice between breaking the law or denying their child a treatment that could help relieve their condition.

The Minister said the Government planned to move gradually to increase access to the drug for a wider group of patients, eventually including those undergoing palliative care or with HIV.

Manufacture of the drug in the Victoria will be overseen by the Office of Medicinal Cannabis.

Victoria’s move has come two months after Federal Parliament passed legislation allowing for the cultivation of cannabis for medicinal and scientific purposes.

Following the passage of the new laws, the Therapeutic Goods Administration has begun work on reclassifying medicinal cannabis as a Schedule 8 substance, putting it in the same category as morphine and other restricted medicines.

AMA President Professor Brian Owler has said medicinal cannabis should be subject to the same sort of scrutiny and testing as any other medicine.

Adrian Rollins


Published: 19 Apr 2016