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Sarah Climaco

Australian Government Releases MMJ Guidelines

The Australian government has released guidelines for physicians to effectively use cannabis as a treatment for chronic pain and epilepsy. Included is advice about whether patients with chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting and terminally ill patients in palliative care could benefit from medical cannabis treatments, according to a Courier Mail outline of the directive.

The guidelines also include the claim that “Current studies show no evidence that medicinal cannabis can improve overall quality of life or physical functioning” and that there is not enough evidence that medical cannabis can be used to treat arthritis and fibromyalgia pain. The directive indicates that there is “little evidence” that medical cannabis has any benefit to advanced cancer patients with chronic pain, and “medical literature showed little effect on appetite, nausea, vomiting, pain, dizziness, mental health, or sleep problems.”

“At this time, the use of medicinal cannabis products should only be considered where conventional treatments have been tried and proven unsuccessful in managing the patient’s symptoms.”

It does advise that there is evidence that medical cannabis could assist children and young adults up to age 25 suffering from epilepsy with reducing frequency of seizures when used in conjunction with traditional treatments but that it could not stop a seizure if it is underway.

Listed potential side effects include dizziness, euphoria, feeling ‘high,’ vertigo, and diarrhea.

The guidelines were developed by a team from the universities of New South Wales, Sydney and Queensland via the National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre. They have been endorsed by the Australian Advisory Council on the Medicinal Use of Cannabis.

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