$2.5m centre for medical cannabis

Funding success: University of Newcastle clinical pharmacologist Professor Jennifer Martin will lead a national approach to medicinal cannabis research.Newcastle will leadthe national approach to research into medicinal cannabistreatments.

The University of Newcastle hasbeen granted $6 million from the National Health and Medical Research Council for various projects.

Of this money, $2.5 million was allocated to setting up a the Australian Centre for Cannabinoid Clinical and Research Excellence.

Professor Jennifer Martin said thenational infrastructure, governed fromNewcastle, could”rapidly translate the [cannabinoid] research into practice and into policy”.

Professor Martin, a clinical pharmacologist at UoN, will head-up the centre with Professor Nadia Solowij from the University of Wollongong.

The initiativeis a partnership between theUniversity of Newcastle,Hunter Medical Research Institute, Hunter-New England Health and teams fromseveral universities across Australia.

“It’s essentially saying we need a nationally integrated, collaborative framework, where as soon as we receive data from avariety of clinical trials with any of the cannabinoid productsfrom around Australia,or indeed new datafrom overseas, we can rapidly translate that intopolicy andpractice,” she said.

Professor Martin said a coordinated, national strategy was “really important” in turning research intopractice.It was particularlyimportant, she said, tohave a national, coordinatedresearch andpolicy strategy acrossthe states and commonwealth.

She expected, where evidence was shown, to see cannabinoid treatments “much moreavailable in Australia within the next five years”.

“We have had some community input from patients in the community that have access to cannabis and who have found that those products are helpful.

“We’ve had a lot of patients and family advocates that have really pushed that from the Hunter area.Now we need to get the supporting evidence to guide practice,” Professor Martin said.

“We’ve got a community advisory group… but we’ve also got a very strong clinical network of lead clinicians around Australiawith which to guide this centre.”

As part of the $6 million funding allocation, the university also received money for several other projects, mostly fellowships for researchers across a range of medical fields.

The Herald, Newcastle

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