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Australian MPs Admit They Tried Cannabis, Signaling Policy Reform & Epidiolex For Seizures Approved

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Around 8% of Australians are using medical marijuana either occasionally or regularly, according to a recent survey of 1,000 participants conducted by consumer insights company Antenna, reported Cannabiz.

The Medigrowth-commissioned study revealed that 22% of respondents either contemplated or obtained a cannabis prescription within twelve months, while four out of ten would be comfortable telling their employer if they were taking the medicine.

Victoria Officials Opt For Health-Focused Strategy On Cannabis

Australia's evolving attitudes around the plant come as no surprise, considering that even Victoria's Premier Jacinta Allan, Treasurer Tim Pallas and Opposition Leader John Pesutto all confessed to experimenting with cannabis at different times, reported The Age. The revelations were made following the Labor government's indication that it would consider decriminalizing cannabis for personal use.

The Legalise Cannabis Party introduced a bill to legalize personal cannabis use in June. The measures were introduced in parliaments in Victoria, New South Wales and Western Australia on the same day.

Mental Health Minister Ingrid Stitt said on Wednesday the government is open to collaborating with experts, the community and the Legalise Cannabis party regarding the potential legalization of personal cannabis consumption, as the Labor can’t back the bill in its current form.

“In relation to this bill that proposes to legalise the adult personal use of cannabis beyond that required for medicinal reasons, we are unable to support it in its current form at this time,” Stitt said.

Premier Allan was also cautious on the issue.

“Of course we would get advice, of course we would seek advice, and in this instance advice from health experts. That’s what we have indicated in the house yesterday that we would do,” Allan said during a press conference on Thursday. “But it doesn’t necessarily mean that there’s a change to government policy as a consequence of those discussions.”

Treasurer Pallas is also open to adopting a health-focused strategy when addressing cannabis-related issues, while avoiding laws that criminalize the plant, reported The Guardian.

“I don’t think a criminal approach to this is best. A health approach would be best,” Pallas said during a debate on a Legalise Cannabis party bill on Thursday.

NSW Is Lagging On Cannabis Reform

Meanwhile, under a measure introduced this November in the New South Wales parliament could legally gift friends cannabis, grow up to six plants for their use and possess a maximum of 50 grams, reported Vice.

Legalise Cannabis MP Jeremy Buckingham, who is behind the reform push brought a bud of weed into the parliament, emphasizing that even though he obtained it legally by prescription, he would have ended up in jail if he gave it to someone else, writes ABC News.

"What's to be afraid of? Here it is Mr President, a bit of cannabis, medicinal cannabis," Buckingham said during the introduction of the bill. "I note, Mr. President, that if I gave this cannabis here to you, you would suffer a penalty of $10,000 and 10 years in jail. And so would I."

Separately, in August, David Shoebridge, Greens Senator for New South Wales, presented The Greens Legalising Cannabis Bill 2023 on Thursday which would allow adult-use cannabis across the country.

Interestingly, the Australian Medical Association does not support a measure from Shoebridge, due to the potential health risks associated with the plant.

“Legalising cannabis for recreational purposes sends the wrong signal to the public, and especially to young Australians, that cannabis use is not harmful,” said Prof Steve Robson, president of AMA.

Medical Cannabis-Based Epidiolex Gets Green Light By Health Canada

Meanwhile, Epidiolex - a cannabidiol (CBD) oral solution by Jazz Pharmaceuticals PLC

- has been approved by Health Canada for use as adjunctive therapy for the treatment of seizures associated with Lennox-Gastaut syndrome (LGS), Dravet syndrome or tuberous sclerosis complex (TSC) in patients 2 years of age and older.

The Health Canada approval was based on results from five double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled Phase 3 clinical trials, with a total of 939 LGS, Dravet syndrome, or TSC patients enrolled, making it one of the largest global clinical trial programs to date in rare refractory epilepsy syndromes.

"The approval of Epidiolex is an important development for individuals living with specific rare epilepsies, their families, and clinicians across Canada, providing a new treatment option for those living with LGS, Dravet syndrome or TSC," said Paul Petrelli, general manager of Jazz Pharmaceuticals Canada Inc. "This decision affirms the potential of cannabinoid-based medicines for those living with epilepsy. It also reaffirms Jazz's commitment to bringing forward new therapeutic options for Canadians living with rare and debilitating neurological conditions."

Epidiolex, contains a naturally occurring cannabis compound, a key constituent derived from the cannabis plant. The cannabidiol oral solution is approved for patients one year and older to treat severe forms of epilepsy in the U.S. and Europe.


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