Medical marijuana draws mixed response from experts

BRENT ROW

Medical marijuana officially has the go-ahead in Victoria. Source: Wikimedia Commons

Medical marijuana officially has the go-ahead in Victoria. Source: Wikimedia Commons

Victoria’s legalisation of medical cannabis has been met with mixed reactions from leading researchers in the field of drugs and alcohol.

Director of the National Drug and Alcoholic Research at the University of New South Wales, Dr Michael Farrell, warned that if medical use is likely to be long term, patients should be advised that the adverse effects of long term cannabis use are unclear.

“Patients could also be advised of the adverse effects reported in long-term recreational users, such as the development of dependence,” Dr Farrell said.

Dr Farrell praised the research on which the Victorian Government’s decision was based is sound, but expressed reservations about the medical effectiveness of marijuana.

“There is no clear evidence for effectiveness in treating pain, any benefits are likely to be modest, and there is no clear evidence that benefits outweigh possible harms”.

In a statement released yesterday, Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews said the primary motivation for his government to legalise cannabis was to increase access to the drug for people suffering chronic health conditions.

“I’ve seen first-hand how medicinal cannabis can change people’s lives. This landmark reform means Victorian families will no longer have to decide between breaking the law and watching their child suffer,” Mr Andrews said.

Dr Farrell said the Victorian government is taking the right approach to medical cannabis by opening official, regulated channels to medicinal cannabis for patients seeking to use it.

“Helping patients who wish to use cannabis for symptomatic relief to live as comfortably and productively as possible is an important and valuable goal of palliative and rehabilitation treatment”.

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