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Largest Australian State Okays Clinical Use Of Marijuana

Thursday, 22 May 2003

Sydney, New South Wales: Australians suffering from chronic pain, multiple sclerosis and other serious diseases will have legal access to medicinal marijuana under a four year clinical trail to be run by the New South Wales (NSW) Health Department, state Premiere Bob Carr announced this week. Volunteers in the trial may receive either whole smoked marijuana or sublingual cannabis extracts, Carr said.

A British pharmaceutical company expects to receive regulatory approval to market medicinal marijuana extracts later this year.

Carr's announcement comes nearly three years after a state-appointed "Working Party on the Use of Cannabis for Medical Purposes" recommended "controlled clinical trials" on the medical use of marijuana, and a moratorium on criminal sanctions for patients who used pot therapeutically.

"Medical evidence supported the proposition [that] marijuana ... can relieve the symptoms of suffering and we have an obligation wherever we can to minimize human pain and human distress," Carr said.

Also backing the trials is the NSW branch of the Australian Medical Association, which supports legalizing "the currently prohibited drug in specific medical cases to alleviate patient suffering and facilitate research."

Legislation to allow the trial is expected to be enacted by next year.

For more information, please contact either Paul Armentano or Allen St. Pierre of the NORML Foundation at (202) 483-8751.