The Australian government is investing AU$3 million to study the benefits of medical cannabis for pain, symptom, and side effect management for cancer patients, according to a Health Europa report. The funds come from the federal Medical Research Future Fund.
“There have only been a limited number of well-designed clinical studies on medicinal cannabis, and we need to increase the evidence base to support medical professionals to make their decisions.” – Minister for Health Greg Hunt, via Health Europa
Hunt indicated that there are more than 11,000 registered medical cannabis patients in the country, the majority of which had been approved this year. The nation’s first medical cannabis cultivation license was approved in March 2017; there are now 78 total licensees in Australia, the report says.
Hunt credited Australian actress Olivia Newton-John with helping to “shine a light on the benefits associated with medical cannabis.” Newton-John, 71, has been diagnosed with breast cancer three times since 1992. She told a crowd during Melbourne’s annual Wellness Walk and Research Run on Oct. 6 that she is “feeling fantastic” through a combination of cancer treatment and medical cannabis use, according to an Independent report.
Recreational cannabis use remains illegal throughout most of Australia; however, last month the Australian Capital Territory approved reforms allowing residents 18-and-older to grow two plants and possess up to 50 grams of cannabis. Hunt has said that the federal government does not support recreational cannabis legalization.
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