Growing interest in medicinal cannabis

On 7 September NICM’s inaugural medicinal cannabis research symposium was held, bringing together over 90 delegates and speakers, including world-leading medicinal cannabis scientists, academics, educators, and the Australian medicinal cannabis industry. It was also the launch of the Australian Medicinal Cannabis Research and Education Collaboration (AMCREC), which is a NICM initiative bringing leading expertise from across Western Sydney University to tackle the challenges facing industry, medical practitioners and researchers in this evolving field.

Delegates learned about the latest research, regulatory developments and education regarding medicinal cannabis.

A key highlight for many delegates was the video address by world-leading cannabis researcher, Dr Ethan Russo who discussed current challenges in cannabis research. Other key international headline addresses such as Dr Suzanne Sisley’s world-first PTS cannabis study conducted in the US was well received and Dr Jeff Hergenrather overview on the current state of play from international drug control, types of cannabis, to the critical review of the evidence.

Adjunct Professor John Skerritt, Deputy Secretary, Health Products Regulation Group, Department of Health, discussed in his presentation patient access processes; imported products; medicinal cannabis portal; patient access statistics; impacts of regulation on medicinal cannabis research in Australia; clinical trials notifications; cultivation research licences and regulatory requirements for cannabis products to become approved medicine.

As covered in Professor Skerritt’s presentation, the number of legal patients and interest is continuing to grow in Australia says NICM Research Fellow and AMCREC Coordinator, Justin Sinclair.

“Figures as of end August from Professor Skerritt showed 72 authorisations for 38 prescribers and 331 patients reported so far with some reports at the time still to be submitted – it is currently being used in paediatric epilepsy, CINV, chronic cancer and non-cancer pain and palliative care.

“The government has clinical guidance documents and literature summaries for epilepsy, MS, CINV, pain and palliative care are available at in a new window)

“Medicinal cannabis is a specialised field and definitely an evolving space in Australia with the research and interest continuing to grow in Australia, along with the rest of the world.

“Our symposium received great feedback about the quality of all speakers to global leaders in the field to our local research happening in Australia, the need for such an event is there, and enables engagement, robust academic discussion, and an intellectual comradery,” Mr Sinclair concluded.

As the symposium showcased, the future is promising for medicinal cannabis research, and NICM are in discussions with fellow institutes and colleagues for future medicinal cannabis research symposiums in Australia. More details to be announced in 2019.

A special thank you to the invited speakers, local organising committee and sponsors; Cannatrek Medical; MA Genetics; Solaris Nutraceuticals; Little Green Pharma; United in Compassion and Western Sydney University for their support and contributions to a very successful NICM Symposium.