Alternative option to pain relief

Labor candidate for Morwell Jadon Mintern has made a passionate show of support for the legalisation of medical marijuana, after being touched by the story of a Latrobe Valley resident.

On Sunday the State Labor Opposition promised it would seek advice from the Victorian Law Reform Commission on medical cannabis for treatment uses in “exceptional circumstances” if it won government at the November election.

Cannabis oil has been known to have a powerful effect in treating very sick children and adults by reducing symptoms in conditions such as cancer, HIV/AIDS, Multiple Sclerosis, glaucoma and Parkinson’s Disease.

Since Sunday’s announcement, Mr Mintern said he had been approached by a local resident with a rare terminal disease who was in “dire need” of cannabis oil to alleviate pain.

“This condition means this person is in chronic pain most of the time, so from my perspective if the law can change to allow this person the use of cannabis oil to help alleviate the pain, then I think that’s a very good thing,” Mr Mintern said.

“This policy is about making sure the law represents current community values – this is about making sure the law doesn’t get in the way of a viable and critical treatment of people that are very sick.

“For someone to approach me like that takes a huge amount of guts and we need to acknowledge the amount of guts that takes.”

However, Mr Mintern made a clear distinction against the legalisation of ‘smoking’ marijuana for medical purposes or other uses.

“When it emerges we are talking about the use of cannabis oil and how it is extremely low in THC (the psychoactive ingredient of marijuana) people are generally supportive of the policy,” he said.

“For people who are suffering chronic pain and are terminally ill who use cannabis oil because they feel they have no other effective option shouldn’t have this overlaying stress about breaking the law if they choose to use it.

“On top of everything associated with being terminally ill, the prospect of police coming to knock on the door is pretty unfair.

“I think there’s been a lack of political will to address this issue; people have been asking for this in various forms and degrees for a while, and I think it’s unfair to prevent people who respect the law to relieve themselves of pain.”

Outlining the terms of reference for the VLRC, a Labor spokesperson said the prescription, manufacture and distribution of medical cannabis would be regulated, and the role of doctors in prescribing and managing patient care would also be assessed.

In welcoming the announcement, Australian Medical Association Victoria president Dr Tony Bartone said there was a growing body of evidence on cannabis as an effective treatment for some types of chronic pain, the control of muscle spasticity, and some forms of nausea.

“AMA Victoria supports more research into the administration of medicinal cannabis, as smoking or ingesting a crude plant product is harmful. Regular inhalation of cannabis can increase the risk of lung damage,” Dr Bartone said.

“Any promotion of medicinal cannabis will require extensive public education to highlight the harmful effects of its non-medical use, including its correlation with mental illness.”