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Townsville health experts say requests for medicinal marijuana to increase

Local pharmacists and doctors are expecting even more requests for medicinal marijuana. James Jensen from Australian Nutrition Centre is one of them. TOWNSVILLE health experts are preparing for an increased interest in medicinal marijuana with one pharmacist having knocked back requests for the past three years.

Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt recently gave the green light for Australian companies to import cannabis oils and tablets.

As of yesterday, Queensland patients can access the drug on a case-by-case basis.

Australian Nutrition Centre owner and pharmacist James Jensen said he had been asked at least once a week for the past three years for medicinal marijuana. “People know that I am a pharmacist but also love herbal treatments so I guess they feel I am a good person to ask,” he said. “There is a large number of people who are already using the product in Townsville – who buy it from America or from somewhere else online – mainly for cancer treatment. “I know people want to know how they can get their hands on it and will be madly researching this. “Doctors have to apply to be able to write a script for it.” Northern Australia Primary Health chairman Dr Kevin Arlett said a number of patients had requested the drug from him. “Now that it’s going to become available, there will be more questions about it,” he said. “My understanding is that we need specialist recommendation for it. “It’s a bit more liberal in Queensland than other states.” Dr Arlett said it would be mainly aimed at children with resistant epilepsy. “Most of the psychoactive components will be removed,” he said. “It’s not the same as marijuana that you buy on the street. “The opportunities to abuse it will be quite limited.” Queensland Health and Ambulance Services Minister Cameron Dick said the new laws provided a clear legal pathway for doctors to treat patients with certain medical conditions. “While these products will need to be approved by the Federal Government’s Therapeutic Goods Administration before they can be supplied, these new laws are designed to streamline the application process,” he said. Agricultural leaders say the North is an ideal growing location for medicinal marijuana. Canegrowers Herbert River manager Peter Sheedy said there had been a lot of interest in the crop depending on the size. “The quantity that’s being spoken about is very small,” he said. “It certainly doesn’t quantify a local farming system.” Mr Sheedy said the security around owning a marijuana farm would need to be tightly managed. “The Herbert River district is a good natural area for sugar cane and I’m sure marijuana would grow just as well here,” he said. Canegrowers Burdekin acting general manager Wayne Smith said there had been some initial enthusiasm from growers. “The Burdekin has some of the best soil and water available,” he said. “It would depend on the return against other crops.”

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