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Byron Shire
March 24, 2023

Australia in world first cannabis trial

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Cannabis trial with Dr Jennifer Walsh. Photo supplied.

A world first study on the effect of medicinal cannabis has on adults suffering from chronic insomnia will be conducted by the University of Western Australia.

Around one in three Australians has regular difficulty getting to sleep or staying asleep and it is believed the sedation effect brought on by medicinal cannabis could be an alternative treatment for those experiencing the condition.

Study lead Professor Peter Eastwood said current evidence suggested medicinal cannabis could be a less invasive alternative to current drugs on the market.

‘Prescription medicines such as benzodiazepines (e.g. Temazepam), non-benzodiazepine hypnotics (e.g. Stilnox, Sonata, Imovane) and some antidepressants and antihistamines can have unpleasant side effects and when used long-term can result in dependence and withdrawal symptoms,’ Professor Eastwood said.

‘Based on previous research we believe a small dose of medicinal cannabinoid may be effective for treating chronic insomnia and have fewer side effects than current drug treatment options.’

The study involves participants taking either a medicinal cannabinoid for two weeks or a ‘placebo’ with no active ingredients and then completing a series of assessments and questionnaires relating to how they slept.

The participants will then crossover the medications for another two weeks and return again for the same assessments. They won’t know the order in which they receive the ‘active’ or ‘placebo’ medication.

The medication is in an oil formulation that is administered through a dropper under the tongue one hour before going to bed. The quality of sleep is then measured with a wrist-based activity monitor as well as three overnight sleeps in the sleep centre.

‘The use of medicinal cannabis for treating conditions such as epilepsy and chronic pain is reasonably well documented, however, its use for treating insomnia is considered experimental,’ Professor Eastwood said.

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  1. You do need a study. The more scientific studies are done, the more this wonderful gift from nature will be accepted. It has been outlawed for too long. Gerry

  2. The doctor’s primary duty is to act in the best interests of patients. In order to do this, doctors must maintain their professional autonomy, clinical independence, and integrity. Relationships between doctors and industry must not compromise, or be perceived to compromise, the doctor’s professional judgement, capacity to serve patients’ interests, or the community’s trust in the integrity of the medical profession.

    Doctors have a responsibility to ensure that their interaction with industry is consistent with their duties towards their patients and towards society at large. Doctors must safeguard their clinical independence and professional integrity from the influence of third parties including industry.

    Australian Medical Association. Code of Ethics 2004. Editorially Revised 2006
    National Health and Medical Research Council. National Statement on Ethical Conduct in Human Research. Australian Government 2007.
    Royal Australasian College of Physicians. Ethical aspects of conflicts of interest. January 2004.

  3. As a person who was prescribed benzodiazepines for sleep for years and was seriously harmed by taking the medication exactly as prescribed, I think more and more doctors need to look into the use of medical marijuana for insomnia and other health issues. After tapering off of my “sleeping pill”, it messed up my brain up so much that I was sleeping less than 2 hours a night total for months. When doctors were completely unable to help me, I reluctantly decided to give marijuana a try. Using marijuana was the ONLY way I was able to get a decent nights sleep for almost a year until my brain finally healed itself from the benzo damage. After regular use for almost a year, I was able to stop using marijuana for sleep, and my only issues stopping was 3 days of feeling slightly irritable. Marijuana really was a lifesaver for me, and is the only reason I didn’t take my own life after being damaged from a prescribed drug I was assured was safe in a low dose.

  4. The studies have already been completed in the countries that have made marijuana available for patients. Some of these countries, over 20 years ago.

    Sign this petition on change.org to demand this reform begin now in Australia for those patients that are willing to seek legal access to a naturally occurring remedy for illness, and not have them and your loved ones waiting decades longer for studies that have already been done.



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