Sick of stalling: patients forced onto cannabis black market by regulatory delays

home grown

Troy Langman receives a constant stream of requests from people broken by pain or deeply affected by watching someone they love suffer: people at their wits end in search of medicinal cannabis, a product which he has the expertise to make but he is not yet licensed to do so under Australian law.

Mr Langman is the founder of Tasman Health Cannabinoids (TasCann), a company that has been trying to secure a research and development (R&D) license to grow medicinal cannabis in Tasmania and Norfolk Island.

Last year, TasCann was granted a license to grow cannabis for medicinal purposes on Norfolk Island but this was later revoked by the island’s Administrator, while an in-principle agreement with Tasmania’s former Labor government to conduct R&D in the state was overturned by the Liberals when they came to power in March 2014.

Mr Langman says that he and others involved publicly with medicinal cannabis receive “constant pleas” of help from desperate people searching for relief from their symptoms.

He is concerned that sick people are turning to the black market in cannabis because they have no other choice.

“It [the black market] leaves people open to other issues: people that probably aren’t doing a good job and also people who are getting ripped off or having to make the products themselves. That’s hard if you’re really sick,” Mr Langman says.

Cannabis can be used to treat a wide range of conditions, including muscle spasms caused by epilepsy and multiple sclerosis, chemotherapy-induced nausea, Crohns disease and poor appetite caused by HIV.

Mr Langman believes the solution is to legalise the production of medical cannabis under controlled conditions so that it is produced by professionals working to strict manufacturing standards, rather than to leave sick people on their own to risk sourcing an inferior, illegal product and facing prosecution.

“Quality and a regular supply cannot be guaranteed. Right now people are relying on kitchen chemists and dubious overseas supply,” he says.

Medicinal cannabis has been a hot topic recently as politicians of all stripes back clinical trials of medicinal cannabis, with many saying they have changed their stance after meeting very sick people who have been helped by the drug.

NSW Premier Mike Baird announced last year that he would sanction clinical trials exploring cannabis’ efficacy for treating children with severe epilepsy, the terminally ill and chemotherapy-induced nausea after he meeting Dan Haslam, who died of bowel cancer in February, and his mother Lucy – a passionate campaigner for medicinal cannabis.

Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk and Victoria Premier Dan Andrews have both publicly backed the NSW trials, which are slated to start taking patients from mid-2016.

But while the clinical trials are encouraging, the reality of sick people being able to legally use medicinal cannabis is at least two years away and possibly up to five years or more.

Mr Langman is cautiously positive about the trials but it is evident that he is heartbroken – as well as frustrated – by the delays, especially because he often speaks to people dealing with cripplingly pain who don’t have that long to wait.

“Any positive steps are encouraging but it worries me that they may wait five years to allow this very safe medication to be distributed more widely. We know it’s safe, side effects are minimal and people prefer it over many currently prescribed medications, which in many cases are nowhere near as effective as cannabis,” he says.

“People prefer access to a more natural medicinal product, rather than having to deal with the side effects that a lot of pharmaceutical products can bring.”

It is an expensive and lengthy process to get drugs approved under the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA), although the senate recently passed a federal bill establishing a separate regulator of medicinal cannabis, which would by-pass the TGA.

“Otherwise it costs $250,000 for the application to start the process to get drug approval. This is followed by lengthy clinical trials over five to ten years where the focus is on one medical compound treating one condition,” Mr Langman says.

“[Cannabis] is a complex medication – it contains over 500 different compounds and can be used for a huge variety of conditions, from depression to cancer.

“It’s just not feasible to do individual clinical studies to determine what it should be used for, for the sake of satisfying a peer reviewed study, when there is a desperate need for this medicine now.”

Mr Langman says Australia is’ way behind’ the rest of the world and most politicians and Australians want reform.

Cannabis is allowed for medical use in countries including 36 US states, France, the Netherlands, Uruguay, Chile, the Czech Republic and in Israeli hospitals and nursing homes.

“The public is behind this issue more and more. The fact is people are not going to stand for waiting five years and are using medicinal cannabis already, facing prosecution and visits from DOCS.”

He believes that age old prejudices combined with the self-interest and might of the powerful pharmaceutical companies may be holding back the chance for sick Australians to get relief through properly produced and controlled medicinal cannabis.

“It would be a great pity if the current trial process is effectively dead on arrival because of bureaucratic and financial interests,” Mr Langman says.

“People should not be forced to take risks on the black market when we know from overseas experience there are good treatments available.

“Still, I am optimistic. Public pressure got Australian governments to act and I am sure public pressure will ensure governments, in the end, do the right thing.”

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5 thoughts on “Sick of stalling: patients forced onto cannabis black market by regulatory delays

  1. The fact is that the governments stalling practice is killing people, so many others have decided they are going to cure themselves using the plant. I remind everyone that is what we are discussing here, a plant, that is less harmful than most herbs growing in gardens around this nation right now, yet the ignorance surrounding this particular plant is staggering.

    The medical profession in their total ignorance still believe it causes mental illness, cancer etc, when in fact the direct opposite is true. It is also claimed it causes major problems on the roads, there is absolutely no proof of this and again in fact the direct opposite has been proved in trials and where Cannabis is legal, the road toll actually reduces, as does road rage, domestic violence, violence in general, major crimes and not only that but it reduces the death due to pharmaceuticals because people stop using them and start using Cannabis and they get well.

    Their lies have been exposed, the laws we all now know are based entirely in lies, as this plant is not a poison, therefore it does not belong in the poisons list, it is not a dangerous drug, it has never harmed a single cell in any person in history and cannot, it is not a narcotic, it does not fit the true meaning of the term, therefore being charged with any of these things in being falsely accused and any prosecutor or police officer who claims such charges against anyone is in fact committing perjury.

    Its time to end this war, its time to give the people what they demand, the right to grow, possess and use this plant, raw or cooked, in a drink, in food or smoked all are valuable to health, all benefit the user.

    I will not comply, I will defy.

  2. It infuriates me no end to see that the political machine seems to be turning the health & well being of Australians into yet another watered down, whats-best-for-big-business approach which in the end will do (relatively) little to help those who need help. The recent announcement into a five year “trial” to ascertain the effectiveness of one compound out of the four-hundred-odd compounds in cannabis is an insult, and anyone with any sense of politics knows it.

    Countless studies have been performed and published in numerous countries over decades, in which countless proof has been found that a combination of compounds found in cannabis can cure more ailments than one could list on an A4 page – from Epilepsy to Cancer and many more. On top of this there is innumerable anecdotal evidence from those whom the government(s) of Australia wish to perpetuate as criminals for taking their lives, their healing & medicinal choices into their own hands.

    Yet, the government(s) of Australia continue to insist on “trials”, “clinical studies” & endless rhetoric as to their support of this pharmaceutical-company-led farce. A farce in its truest sense, as you and I both know that these studies will be carried out by those with vested interests in keeping whole plant cannabis as a schedule 1 drug while their shareholders benefit from the relatively small amount of people a CBD-only, synthetic drug could possibly help.

    At what point – ever – have pharmaceutical companies done anything to “cure” disease or provide permanent pain relief? They are interested in one thing, and one thing only: PROFIT. (Profit comes about only with REPEAT BUSINESS). This is akin to Tony Abbott employing a Caltex executive as chief of a climate change committee. Seriously? Do government & politicians truly believe their constituents are mindless buffoons? I digress.

    Why else would corporate peddlers-of-chemicals-and-genetically-engineered-foods (and death), Monsanto, be creating a genetically modified strain of cannabis? To get into the market! Purely because the tide of cannabis support has turned in the USA. To CONTROL & own it. If you genuinely believe this company is doing anything in the interests of the public, with all due respect you need your head read.

    Why has the US Health Dept put a patent on cannabanoids? Because they knew it’s effectiveness in the 1990’s! Do you think big pharma wants that cat out of the proverbial bag until they can get their mits on it? Google US patent 6630507 for yourself.

    Let’s get back to one simple fact: Cannabis is a remarkable plant with many remarkable properties.

    Let the people of Australia, who want to grow this plant (for whatever their reason!) grow the plant. All levels of govenment are more than happy for us to brew our own alcohol – why can we not grow this plant, regardless of whether it has inebriating qualities or curative ones!? (That was a rhetorical question, because I already know why.) Giving the “plant” to corporations means tax revenue. There is no tax revenue from people curing themselves using cannabis oil, is there?

    How much strain do you think could be taken off the ever-ailing political-football hospital system if people could cure themselves, or relieve their own pain? So many answers stare us right in the face! How many Australians will die from curable ailments, or suffer needlessly while whole-plant-cannabis medicine is demonised as these farcical “trials” takes place?

    And something else? “Criminals drug dealers” (the actual ones – biker gangs & the like) will have to find other ways of making money if their customers can grow it themselves! Spending our tax payer dollars on policing antiquated anti-cannabis drug law is a farce, just as the “trial” on CBD-only cannabis extract is. How much taxpayer money is wasted each year chasing & enforcing “illegal” cannabis each year? I’ll answer that, based on the ABS facts: $1.05BN. Yes – over ONE BILLION DOLLARS A YEAR. The government should be encouraging it & making legitimate industry from it in all manner of forms.

    But then, perhaps the pharmaceutical industry “donations” might stop, right?

  3. Please legalise cannabis treatment. I’m talking whole plant medicine and plants. Patients should be allowed to grow their own plants and make what they need or want with it. I have fibromyalgia, Shermans disease, IBS, CFS, depression, anxiety, migraines and other things (which I can’t remember right now because my prescription medication gives me memory loss and loss of concentration amongst other horrible side effects). Cannabis works hand in hand with our endocannabinoid systems keeping our bodies in balance and kills cancer cells. This has all be scientifically proven. For anyone to say cannabis does not do these brilliant things, they are simply are not educated enough on the subject. Education, legalisation and regulation need to happen immediately.
    Recreational users should not go to jail for ‘committing’ a victimless ‘crime’. Simply adults should be allowed to use which ever recreational substance they choose. Obviously I believe synthetic, chemical drugs are bad for us, our bodies, the people around us (loved ones) and the economy. But making them illegal will never stop people from using them and sending users to jail is seriously counterproductive on so many levels.
    For me, cannabis takes my pain away, gives me solid restorative sleep, helps manage my prescription medications negative side effects and withdrawals, manages my migraines, stops my IBS and treats my lactose intolerance, and much more. How loudly does the Australian public have to yet before the government will hear what we are saying? On countless occasions we have given access to the proof of our claims, which you can actually find with a quick google search as well. You just have to be willing to take on this new information and let go of the propaganda that has been drummed into you.
    For the love of life, LEGALISE CANNABIS NOW! PLEASE!

  4. Cannabis was made illegal due to Australia being a “good little puppet” of the USA & it was made illegal in the USA due to a bent cop, Harry Anslinger – a well known racist & devout liar.
    Cannabis has been kept illegal in Australia due to big mouthed but similarly corrupt Police who will lose significant funding WHEN Cannabis is FULLY legalised as the vast majority of Australians DEMAND (ALL news polls show that greater than 80% of Australians want Cannabis to be FULLY legal).
    The FACT is that Cannabis has killed ZERO people throughout the whole of Human history. Not only that but the pure garbage that has been sprouted by some morons about Cannabis causing or exacerbating Mental health has now been FULLY & comprehensively debunked as yet another case of Marijuana Madness which amounts to our wonderful Governments AND POLICE lying to us.
    See the VERY latest research by University of Oxford & University of Leeds in the UK that has DEFINITIVELY & comprehensively PROVEN that Cannabis causes no “mental health” issues whatsoever.
    Yes Cannabis SHOULD be FULLY legalised for Medical AND recreational use as research done in the USA PROVES that Cannabis, when used regularly DEFINITELY increases our overall lifespans as well as our overall quality of life.
    Indeed Cannabis is FULLY able to mitigate the damage done by the most deadly DRUG on the face of the planet, Damn Alcohol.
    It’s well time that we ALL grew some collective Brains in regards to Cannabis.

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