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Medicinal cannabis one step closer for Victorian patients

16 August, 2016

Victorian patients are one step closer to accessing medicinal cannabis with the Andrews Labor Government’s horticultural trial entering its second phase and a new Independent Medical Advisory Committee now in place.

Premier Daniel Andrews on 16 August 2016 joined Minister for Health Jill Hennessy to announce the appointment of Professor James Angus AO as the Chairperson of the new Independent Medical Advisory Committee.

The Committee will play a critical role in the delivery of the Government's Medicinal Cannabis Access Scheme by providing expert advice on patient eligibility – including expanding the scheme to include other cohorts – and the approval of the types of medicinal cannabis products that will be available to Victorian patients.

It includes specialist physicians in cancer, addiction medicine, neurology and pain management and experts in pharmacology, HIV/AIDS, medical research, medical ethics, pharmacy practice, nursing and a consumer representative.

A leading academic and medical educator, Professor Angus was the Head of the University of Melbourne's Medical School from 2003 to 2010 and Dean of the Faculty of Medicine, Dentistry and Health Sciences from 2003 to 2013.

While the Committee is getting on with its important work, the Government's cultivation is on-track to deliver supply to kids with severe epilepsy in 2017.

The Government has successfully completed Australia's first horticultural trial and is ready to commence cultivation for the first patient group. This involves using cuttings from suitable plant strains from the horticultural trial to grow multiple plants for the first patient group.

The Office of Medicinal Cannabis is also up and running, and will be responsible for the regulation of clinical and manufacturing aspects of the medicinal cannabis framework.

It will work closely with medical specialists, general practitioners and pharmacists to help them understand their role in facilitating access to medicinal cannabis products.

As part of this, the Office will be developing and publishing educational material about medicinal cannabis, eligibility and regulatory requirements for participation in the scheme.

Victoria was the first state in Australia to legalise access to medicinal cannabis for those in exceptional circumstances.

The Labor Government provided $28.5 million in the Victorian Budget 2016/17 to support the roll-out of this life-changing scheme.

Quotes attributable to Premier Daniel Andrews

"Right now we have parents are making the heart breaking decision between breaking the law and watching their child suffer – and we are changing that forever."

"We are delivering on our promise to give access to medicinal cannabis as soon as possible because we know it can change lives."

 Quotes attributable to Minister for Health Jill Hennessy

"The new Medical Advisory Committee will use the very best medical evidence available so doctors and families can have confidence in our medicinal cannabis access scheme."

"Professor Angus' highly-respected skills, knowledge and expertise will help guide the roll-out of medicinal cannabis products for Victorian patients in exceptional circumstances."

Quotes attributable to Minister for Agriculture Jaala Pulford

"Our cannabis horticultural trial is on-track to deliver this life-changing product to those who need it the most."

"Victoria continues to lead the way in this space with our Australian-first medicinal cannabis horticultural trial."

Quote attributable to Professor James Angus AO

"I am delighted to be appointed as Chairperson of this extraordinarily skilled and diverse Committee, and I look forward to getting on with the important work that lies ahead."

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