DESPERATE cancer patients are paying up to $220 for one day’s supply of black market medicinal cannabis while awaiting the “frustratingly slow” process of legalisation.
Health experts say there is enough scientifically proven benefit to warrant the drug’s legalisation in Australia.
But state governments have ordered trials despite more than 1600 research papers already completed around the world.
Scientists say medicinal cannabis eases nausea in chemotherapy patients, assists with pain and muscle spasticity and stimulates appetite in cancer and HIV patients.
Certain cannabis substances have also been found to kill cancer cells in the lab.
As State Governments order trials into the use of medicinal cannabis, cancer patients are paying as much as $200 a day for black market drugs. PIC: Marc McCormack
“I believe there is heaps of research out there if people take the trouble to read it they will find the research is more than adequate,” said Emeritus Professor Laurence Mather from the University of Sydney.
Medicinal cannabis supplier Langdon Brown, also known as The Don, said he had 150 customers in Queensland taking cannabis oil for conditions like cancer, epilepsy and chronic pain. He said supply was difficult because growers were reluctant to have more than six plants for legal reasons.
PALASZCZUK: Queensland to trial medicinal marijuana
One millilitre of Mr Langdon’s cannabis oil sells for $110 which he said could last about one month for a patient taking one drop per day. But he recommended cancer patients consume 2ml a day for two months equating to $220 a day or $13,200 for two months.
“If medicinal cannabis was legalised, prices would come down 50 per cent guaranteed,” Mr Langdon said.
The Queensland Government has ordered trials of medical cannabis for children with epilepsy which could start next year. Health Minister Cameron Dick said Queensland Health was looking into the global research “to see if we can accelerate the process. We want to ensure any medical cannabis product used by children is safe and effective”.
Meanwhile Greens, LNP, Labor and Liberal Democrat senators have co-sponsored a forthcoming Bill to regulate the growing, manufacturing and distribution of medicinal cannabis nationally.
Federal Greens leader Richard Di Natale says there is overwhelming evidence medicinal cannabis can provide relief. PIC: Mick Tsikas/AAP
Bill co-sponsor and Greens Leader Senator Richard Di Natale said there was “already overwhelming international evidence that medicinal cannabis can provide relief from certain conditions. Cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy have been needlessly denied access to this kind of medical relief for far too long”.
The Australian Medical Association, which recognises the therapeutic potential of cannabis, backs more clinical trials.
President of the Australian Drug Law Reform Foundation, Dr Alex Wodak AM, said people were suffering while “slow progress” was made towards legalising medical marijuana.
He said many terminal patients were forced onto the black market, fearing legal repercussions. “I’m all in favour of being slow and careful but it seems hard to justify the rate of progress,” said Dr Wodak.