Epileptic children to be first in Queensland treated with medicinal cannabis as part of trial

Children with severe drug-resistant epilepsy will be the first in Queensland to be treated with medicinal cannabis.

Health Minister Cameron Dick revealed on Wednesday that the trial is likely to occur at Brisbane’s Lady Cilento Children’s Hospital in 2016.

In a letter tabled in Parliament, Mr Dick said Queensland planned to partner in an interstate clinical trial.

“[It is] an opportunity to show medicinal cannabis can be a safe and effective addition to existing treatments,” he wrote in the letter.

“As more information becomes available, I will be better placed to consider what is in the best interests of all Queenslanders, including the need for legislative change.”

Australian Medical Association Queensland president Dr Chris Zappala welcomed the trial and said it must be rigorous.

“It’s important we proceed cautiously and carefully to begin with and that means appropriately constructing the trials and putting the appropriate safeguards in place,” he said.

[It is] an opportunity to show medicinal cannabis can be a safe and effective addition to existing treatments.
Health Minister Cameron Dick

“For example medicinal marijuana needs to be provided on a script, under medical supervision [and] appropriately dispensed.”

Dr Zappala said there were still questions about the benefits of medicinal cannabis.

“What dose works best?” he asked.

“Where the potential risks might lie, particularly in terms of long-term risks?

“We don’t have that long-term data and we do know that there are risks associated with marijuana.”

He said some doctors were uneasy about the potential risks.

“If there’s a benefit I think you’ll find that everyone’s in favour of that,” he said.

“Let’s get the trials done and it might need to be more than one.

“Evidence is increasing, it’s promising, but it hasn’t reached that threshold yet where we can make general recommendations to patients around using these products.”

Mr Dick revealed details of the trial in response to an e-petition signed by 1,474 people, calling on the Government to make provisions for patients and carers to lawfully cultivate and produce their own cannabis and oils.

The Federal Government announced on Saturday plans to legalise the growing of cannabis for medical purposes.

Source: ABC News