The University of Newcastle, in Callaghan, New South Wales, Australia, has received a $2.5 million (USD$1.95 million) grant from the National Health and Medical Research Council to set up the Australian Centre for Cannabinoid Clinical and Research Excellence, the Illawarra Mercury reports. The funds are part of a larger $6 million ($4.7 million) grant to the university for fellowships and researchers.

The cannabis research program is a partnership between the several universities across Australia, Hunter Medical Research Institute, and Hunter-New England Health. It will be headed up by Jennifer Martin, a clinical pharmacologist at the University of Newcastle and Dr. Nadia Solowij, a psychology professor at the University of Wollongong.

“It’s essentially saying we need a nationally integrated, collaborative framework, where as soon as we receive data from a variety of clinical trials with any of the cannabinoid products from around Australia, or indeed new data from overseas, we can rapidly translate that into policy and practice,” she said in the report, adding that she expects to see cannabinoid treatments “much more available in Australia within the next five years.”

Martin explained that the researchers are already engaging with the community and working with a community advisory group rather than “sitting up there in an ivory tower.”

“We’ve had a lot of patients and family advocates that have really pushed that from the Hunter area,” she said in the Mercury report. “Now we need to get the supporting evidence to guide practice.”

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