Debunking medicinal cannabis myths in Coffs Harbour

The NSW Nurses and Midwives’ Association (NSWNMA) held an education forum for mental health and drug and alcohol nurses on the therapeutic benefits of medicinal cannabis at the C.ex Coffs in Coffs Harbour today.

Forum speakers included Lucy Haslam, Director of United in Compassion and former nurse; Pharmacognosist and Research Fellow at Western Sydney University, Justin Sinclair; Dr Teresa Towpik, Katoomba GP and medicinal cannabis advocate; and Epilepsy Action Australia CEO and Managing Director, Carol Ireland.

General Secretary of the NSWNMA, Brett Holmes, said the Coffs Harbour forum was an important opportunity for local nurses working in drug and alcohol and the mental health sector to become better informed about medicinal cannabis as a treatment option.

“As strong advocates for our patients, nurses stand up for patients’ rights and always want the best available evidence-based care for them,” Mr Holmes said.

“To do so, means nurses may have to confront a tidal wave of public opinion, in order to advocate for those that need our support.

“Although the majority of medicinal cannabis treatments focus on symptoms associated with physical health disorders such as epilepsy, nausea or chronic pain, more evidence is becoming available for it to aid the treatment of mental health and drug and alcohol issues.

“As such, mental health and drug and alcohol clinicians are increasingly likely to encounter medicinal cannabis as a therapeutic intervention in the course of their clinical practice.

“Preliminary research suggests there may be potential for the treatment of PTSD, anxiety, sleep disorders, mood disorders and a possible substitute for problematic use of other substances.”

Laws allowing the controlled cultivation of medicinal cannabis came into effect in October 2016 and the first licences for controlled commercial cultivation were issued early 2017. Prescribed medicinal cannabis use is now legal in all Australian states and territories through a limited Special Access Scheme.

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