Children will be allowed to use medical cannabis in NSW in a world-first drug trial.

Children with drug-resistant epilepsy in New South Wales are set to receive a cannabis-based medication in a world-first medicinal marijuana trial.

From March, terminally-ill adults and sick children alike will be able to use cannabis for medicinal purposes to ease their conditions in this landmark trial for Australia.

As the NSW state government prepares to launch the drug trials, hospital ethics committees have officially given their approval.

While children in the trial will be given the drug Epidiolex, a liquid drug to be dispensed in syringe droppers,  some 30 terminally ill adults in Newcastle will be given vaporised leaf cannabis to inhale, easing their discomfort and pains while increasing appetite.

medical cannabis
Epidiolex is a ‘pure CBD’ plant extract. It contains 98% CBD, and no psychoactive THC. The remainder is made up of trace amounts of other cannabinoids.

The children’s trial will be monitored by the Sydney Children’s Hospital in Sydney’s Randwick and Westmead, while the adult trial will take place at the Calvary Mater Hospital in Newcastle.

This announcement comes less than a year after Medical Research Minister Pru Goward was in talks in the UK to persuade the world’s top cannabis researchers towards testing cannabinoid medicines in NSW.

“There are plenty of countries where you can buy capsules or cookies, but NSW will be the first country to have pharmaceutical-grade products,” Ms Goward said.

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Pru Goward MP, Minister for Medical Research. Image:Twitter @PruGoward.

Epidiolex founder, Dr. Geoffrey Guy rallied for cannabis-based drug trials in Australia over ten years ago and is happy to finally see some progress in the field,

“We always look for ­research where we can see a channel all the way to the end product,” he said.

Epidiolex contains CBD, a non-psychoactive cannabinoid, proven to alleviate the symptoms of epilepsy.

medical cannabis
Dr. Geoffrey Guy. Image via Cannabis Law Reform Twitter: @ClearUK

NSW will undertake the fourth and final phase of the Epidiolex trial before it can be approved for the public, while another epilepsy anticonvulsant, the cannabis-based CBDV, is also set to begin it’s phase two trial here.

Epilepsy Action Australia CEO Carol Ireland estimates that thousands of families continue to source their own cannabis-based drugs illegally.

Ms Goward says a rollout of the compassionate access scheme and various drug trials will come as a relief to many struggling families.

A third trial involving cannabis in the treatment of chemotherapy and it’s side-effects is also set to take place, with details to be announced later this year.


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