The program, run by developmental paediatrician Associate Professor Daryl Efron, is researching the effects that medicinal cannabis can have on children with developmental disorders, including autism, intellectual disability and Tourette Syndrome. A large placebo-controlled trial in children and adolescents with intellectual disability involving 140 participants has received funding from the Medical Research Future Fund.
Cannatrek has contributed seed funding for the infrastructure and expansion of the program, and is looking at supplying medicinal cannabis for trials in the future.
’We are thrilled and thankful that Cannatrek has seen fit to support our research,’ Dr Efron said. ‘‘The program is allowing us to generate good quality evidence on the potential benefits of medicinal cannabis for children. There is quite a lot of evidence on the benefits of medicinal cannabis in adults. In kids, parents are very interested however at present there is very little evidence as the trials haven’t yet been conducted. High quality trials are urgently needed to better understand the role of medicinal cannabis for these patients. We hope to expand the program to explore the use of medicinal cannabis for chronic pain in children, as well as for palliative care and mental health care.’
Assoc Prof Efron said that, alongside the trials, the program is promoting the education of doctors to prescribe medicinal cannabis for children. He said doctors are right to be circumspect with regard to prescribing medicinal cannabis for children, but as evidence comes in his team will continue to update the education of doctors.
Tommy Huppert, CEO of Cannatrek, said Cannatrek was proud to be associated with the program, and that he hoped that the company would be a long-term supporter.
‘We regularly collate data from the people who use our products – we have over 10,000 patients – so the data that comes out of the MCRI program will be very interesting to compare to our own data. We are fielding more and more enquiries from people looking at medicinal cannabis for behavioural issues for their children. The pandemic, and the continual locking down of families in Australia, has made the issue more acute.’