New book highlights pros and cons of medical use of cannabis

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A new book which brings together the relevant science regarding the beneficial effects of cannabis for identified medical conditions and explains many harmful side effects has been launched at Australia's Southern Cross University today.

Its author, Andrew Kavasilas, the founder of the Medical Cannabis Information Service and a noted researcher in the field, has stressed that the publication – “Medical Uses of Cannabis-Information for Medical Practitioners” - is a reference tool and not a manual for treatment.

This publication is a summary of peer reviewed literature and international reviews concerning the potential therapeutic uses and harmful effects of cannabis.

Currently cannabis is being used by patients suffering from diseases and illnesses including HIV, multiple sclerosis and arthritis as well as those suffering from chronic pain or undergoing chemotherapy.

It is being used to counteract the side effects of some drugs, as an appetite stimulant, muscle relaxant and to promote a general sense of wellbeing.

The book includes the results of the recent NSW Government-approved high THC cannabis trials, the results of the first comprehensive Australian medical cannabis users survey and the recommendations of the NSW Government Working Party on the Use of Cannabis for Medicinal Purposes, 2000.

“The information provided is designed to help people make relevant and informed decisions about their health care and should not be viewed as necessarily advocating for the medical use of cannabis,” Mr Kavasilas said.

“Instead it brings a substantial amount of research together in a way that introduces medical practitioners to the varied applications of studied cannabinotherapies. “What I would say to any patient is that if you intend using cannabis for medical purposes, consult your regular doctor first and for patients who currently use cannabis for medical purposes should ensure that their regular doctor is informed.”

Mr Kavasilas was asked by the NSW Government to submit the preliminary report on the medical cannabis users survey, which he wrote and sourced the 50 respondents. The same questionnaire, including some of the same respondents, is now being used by the National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre for further analysis of current medical cannabis users.

In an Australian first, Mr Kavasilas also worked under permit to grow high THC cannabis and study it at the SCU. Further cannabis samples were outsourced to do a range of comparative analysis against street cannabis used by recreational and medical users. His research has sought to establish long-term procedures for the future analysis of high THC cannabis

Dr David Leach, Director of Science at Southern Cross University’s Centre for Phytochemistry and Pharmacology - which has been involved in cannabis research for several years – said the book contained an excellent and up to date overview of cannabis research both locally and overseas.

“The local content covers recent research on cannabis quality and use, balanced with current regulatory issues and uses under consideration in New South Wales,” he said.

“A comprehensive summary of documented indications and clinical uses together with precautions, adverse effects, overdoses and toxicity makes this an excellent reference text.”

The book, which retails for AUD$45, is available from the publisher, Inn Press, PO Box 463 Manly NSW 2095, Australia.


The opinions expressed here are the views of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of News Medical.
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