NSW names company to begin medical marijuana trials

CONCERNS continue over sick children being administered placebos as the NSW Government pushes forward with its clinical trials of medical marijuana.

UK company GW Pharmaceuticals has signed a memorandum to begin the trials on kids with severe epilepsy next year.

The Sydney Children's Hospitals Network will receive $3.5 million to test the drug in oral liquid form.

Some children deemed too sick to participate in the trial will be given "compassionate access" to the drug and will not be subjected to a possible placebo.

But Nimbin Hemp Embassy president Michael Balderstone said parents were still frightened to take the risk.

"I know a lot of parents don't want to join up because there's the risk their kid will have more seizures, and every one causes brain damage," he said.

"But I understand this is the system invented by the pharmaceutical industry to pass medicines.

"These are the hurdles they have to jump."

The marijuana activist said police were cracking down on visitors coming to the town with legitimate health concerns.

His comments followed Monday's session at Lismore Local Court, where 54 people faced drug driving charges.

"I'm happy the trials are happening," he said.

"I just wish they would call an amnesty on all other medicinal use in the meanwhile.

"It's going to take five or six years. People can't wait that long.

"Saliva testing has been huge on the Nimbin community.

"The government has said they would allow some people through the gate, but they're going to go hard on everyone else."

Enquiries to the Hemp Embassy have blown out as word spreads of the drug's potential.

"We've had to get more volunteers in here," Mr Balderstone said.

"I'm not worried about the embassy.

"But a lot of people are coming to Nimbin to buy their medicine and police are out there on the street hunting them every day."

Premier Mike Baird said the trials would include epileptic children for whom traditional drugs had little to no positive effect.

"This confirms NSW's position as a world leader on medicinal cannabis and demonstrates the determination of our government to ensure we secure these groundbreaking trials," Mr Baird said.

"Our research and development is driven by compassion for those suffering so we hope that these initiatives will bring relief to many children and their loved ones." 

-APN NEWSDESK



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