AMA Victoria's response to the VLRC's recommendation to legalise medicinal cannabis

Tuesday 6 October 2015
“This is an exciting development for a specific group of patients with specific conditions. However, AMA Victoria holds reservations as there is a lack of significant evidence and information on its side effects, potential harms, and implications of long term use or use at a young age,” AMA Victoria President Dr Tony Bartone said.
“The Victorian Government, on the recommendation of the VLRC, is not waiting for the results of further clinical trials, such as the NSW/ VIC/ QLD trials which are currently underway. This deviates from the usual process of how medications are approved for use in Australia, where there is either thorough international evidence and/or Australian evidence. Given this gap, we hope that the patients who are authorised to use medicinal cannabis under this new scheme are closely monitored on a comprehensive patient register.
“We stated in our submission to the VLRC that more evidence is needed before there is a full roll out. This has not happened yet. We understand the distress and pain that some patients, and their families, with serious conditions like MS, cancer, epilepsy and seizures, HIV and those with chronic pain suffer. However, checks and balances, evidence, data, proof, risk analysis, warnings and quality control are always needed for medications and medical procedures. This step has been skipped here, and is an important part of good medical care,” Dr Bartone said.
Many questions remain unanswered, including:
If it is not on the PBS, how much will it cost patients?
If it is not on the PBS, how much of the state’s health budget will be directed towards growing, manufacturing and running this scheme?
If it is not approved by the TGA, who will ultimately take responsibility for long-term public safety?
We would like more information on the type of cannabis to be used - the CBD or THC component.
We hope the Government undertakes a public awareness campaign on the harms of recreational cannabis, including its correlation with mental illness.
AMA media contact: Felicity Ryan 0437 450 506 
For further reading, see AMA Victoria’s submission to the VLRC.
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