Cannabis 'will never be prescribed'

02 February, 2015

Clinical trials being set up for using cannabis for medicinal purposes will not see it approved for prescription as its potency varies significantly from person to person, an expert has written recently.

Cannabis cannot be considered a pharmaceutical agent in the typical sense for prescription purposes because of its components, according to former Dean of the University of Melbourne's medical school Professor David Penington in a recent article published in Medical Journal of Australia.

Prof Penington wrote: "(Cannabis) contains a variety of components of variable potency and actions, depending on its origin, preparation and route of administration."

The NSW government is currently conducting three trials to examine the use of medicinal cannabis for severe juvenile epilepsy, the terminally ill and those suffering chemotherapy-related nausea.

The clinical trials, if successful, presume cannabis would then be approved and regulated as a pharmaceutical substance, Prof Penington writes.

"Cannabis has variable effects on individuals. It will not be possible to determine universally safe dosage of cannabis for individuals based on a clinical trial," he wrote.

"Response to cannabis varies from person to person partly due to genetic variation among users."

Prof Penington said its use would have to be determined on a case-by-case basis for patients, where following proper medical advice those opting to use cannabis would have to go about registering for it and then purchasing the drug from a registered supplier.

Federal Senate is also looking to debate a private member's bill to set up a regulator for cannabis' production and distribution.