Skyline picture of the city of Sydney in New South Wales, Australia.

Ryan Wick

New South Wales, Australia MMJ Clinical Trials Delayed

Just one of the three medicinal marijuana clinical trials in New South Wales, Australia has begun on schedule with two others months behind, according to a report from the Australian Broadcasting Company. Premier Mike Baird had announced trials for terminal cancer, chemotherapy and pediatric epilepsy in December 2014, but so far only the epilepsy trial is underway.

The first phase of the clinical trial for terminal cancer patients was set to launch in July but is delayed because the government has been unsuccessful in securing a suitable placebo to test against cannabis. Officials have chosen not to launch the program until the issue is resolved.

Assemblymember Tania Mihailuk said the delay “will distress unnecessarily many patients desperate for treatment,” calling the delay “appalling.”

“Stop dicking around. Stop telling us lies about where we are with medicinal cannabis,” she said in the report. “Get this trial back on track.”

A spokeswoman for the NSW government did not offer a timetable for when the trials might begin, saying the government hoped it would be “as soon as possible.”

“This is the first time in Australia that a botanical cannabis product has been used in a trial,” she said. “Obtaining approvals for the placebo from the Dutch authorities has taken longer than expected. Within weeks of placebo arriving in the country, the researchers will be in a position to commence patient enrollment.”

The first phase of the cancer trials would involve about 30 patients to decide the dosage, delivery method, and potential side effects of medicinal cannabis. The second phase, involving about 300 patients, would test the drug against a placebo in order to determine its effectiveness.

The spokeswoman indicated that updates on the chemotherapy trails would be made “shortly.”

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