Cannabis push

A TASMANIAN organisation is giving momentum to efforts to legalise medical cannabis.

Tasman Health Cannabinoids chief executive Troy Langman thinks Tasmania would be well-poised to take advantage as a crop site.

Mr Langman said he would participate  this week in a round-table discussion with Health Department representatives and a New South Wales cross-party delegation including MP Kevin Anderson, who is working on a private member's bill to legalise medical cannabis.

He said he would also meet Health Minister Michael Ferguson.

Mr Langman said he moved back to the state last year to start Tasman Health Cannabinoids, which aims to be ``the pre-eminent supplier of cannabis in Australia''.

``I felt that this would be the ideal place to start this for a couple of reasons,'' Mr Langman said.

``Firstly they grow 50 per cent of the world's medicinal poppies here, so Tasmania has a track record of managing a narcotic for decades already, and as an island state it has the natural security.''

Mr Langman said the organisation had proposed trials to grow cannabis and then perform clinical studies in partnership with the University of Tasmania.

``We approached the last government, we met with the health minister Michelle O'Byrne, and she gave us extremely positive support to do the clinical study, which she put in writing,'' Mr Langman said.

``We've already designed the first clinical trial, which is on chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting using vaporised cannabis.''

He said they had to receive approval from the university's ethics committee, buy a secure building, have police sign off on its security and have the Health Department issue a licence before they began the trials.

Mr Langman said cannabinoids were harvested from cannabis flowers in the same way   opiates were harvested from poppy flowers, and the cannabinoids could then made into pills, suppositories, mouth sprays, creams and oils.

 He said medical cannabis was ``extremely anti-inflammatory'', and good for neurological pain, returning an appetite and treating nausea and vomiting.

Opposition legal spokeswoman Lara Giddings said it was time for mature discussions on the social and economic benefits of medical cannabis.

``An appropriately managed hemp industry could create jobs in Tasmania,'' Ms Giddings said.

``Recent media reports have shone a light on the human stories of people who have been helped by medicinal cannabis.''

A state government spokesman said there were no plans to change state laws to decriminalise cannabis.

``This is clearly a matter for the federal government's Therapeutic Goods Administration, Australia's regulatory authority for medical drugs,'' the spokesman said.

``In fact, there are cannabinoid drugs that are already approved by the TGA, including products that are used to treat chemotherapy-related nausea.''

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