A worker tends to cannabis plants at a medical marijuana plantation near the northern Israeli city of Safed, June 11, 2012. Reuters/Baz Ratner

South Australia government has held a meeting to discuss the possibility of putting up cannabis and hemp industry in the state. The industry was considered as it could produce lucrative jobs for the state, which has the highest unemployment rate in the country. Manufacturing Minister Kyam Maher said that the government was eager to explore options.

The government brought some important points that would drive the legislation in the state. SA primarily brought up to the stakeholders the economic opportunities of creating a medicinal cannabis industry as well as the production of industrial hemp. The stakeholders that gathered in the meeting included industry associations, companies, lobby groups, research bodies and government departments. Maher said that they would consider lobbying the federal government which would be a part of the many steps before the legislation would be approved.

Maher said that one of the things brought up in the meeting was the need for an education program. He said that they need to look at anything they need to represent to the federal government including issues about production, cultivation and manufacture of medicinal cannabis. They were undertaken to reconvene within 90 days.

Australian Cannabis Corporation participated in the discussion and said that medicinal cannabis had improved multiple US states and other countries in terms of economic and social status. The roundtable discussion was supported by Green MLC Tammy Franks, saying that the roundtable was a step in the right direction. She has introduced a bill to state parliament to legalise hemp production. She said that the state can lead by learning from other's mistakes and she was hoping that it could help the sick and suffering.

An expert in alcohol and drug policy John Fitzgerald said that cannabis legislation has been complicated since federal laws made changes in November. He said that it had put pressure on the states to push the legislation as the states and the federal government have different responsibilities. The legislation would enable use of medicinal cannabis for patients.

Medicinal cannabis is currently available in SA but under strict conditions. WA and NSW also offer it for the seriously ill. Queensland and Victoria are allowing some highly controlled medicinal usage from this year. Meanwhile, legislation is considered in ACT and Tasmania.

Medicinal cannabis has shown it could treat severe muscular spasms, chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting, some types of epilepsy and severe seizures. Popular derivative of the cannabis plant is the Epidiolex, which has shown positive results in clinical trials with Dravet syndrome and Lennox-Gastaut syndrome patients. However, it is still being studied to determine possible side effects. Apart from epilepsy, Australia has launched its largest medicinal clinical trial for cancer patients.


World's largest medicinal cannabis clinical trial to launch in Australia