REGIONAL NSW could be a big winner from the federal government's decision to allow controlled cultivation of cannabis for medicinal or scientific purposes, according to state Primary Industries Minister Niall Blair.
Mr Blair said the Department of Primary Industries and the NSW Centre for Medicinal Cannabis Research and Innovation would now look for potential sites in NSW to ensure the state was ready to support a potential pharmaceutical supply.
Mr Blair joined the Federal Health Minister Sussan Ley and NSW Minister for Medical Research Pru Goward in Sydney on Friday for the announcement, which was hailed as the missing link to cement Australia's place as a world leader in the medical cannabis field.
Tamworth resident and medical marijuana campaigner Lucy Haslam is looking to buy land in the New England to set up a small research and development facility.
Mrs Haslam has led a national campaign to legalise medical cannabis after her son Daniel used the drug to relieve symptoms of his treatment for terminal bowel cancer.
"Further to (medical cannabis being legal), we need to make sure that, when it is legalised, it's affordable," Mrs Haslam said.
"At the moment we're looking for a property in Tamworth to set up a small research and development facility.
"But also my goal is that in the short to mid-term we'll be able to produce a product to supply people like Dan who need compassionate access to medical cannabis now."
Ms Goward also welcomed the Federal Government's advocacy for NSW's clinical trials which supports evidenced-based medicinal cannabis products in the health system.
"This is the approach the NSW Government has embarked upon with its three clinical trials," Ms Goward said.
"The NSW Government has committed $9 million on clinical trials that will explore the use of cannabis and cannabis products in providing relief from a range of debilitating or terminal illnesses.
NSW has also confirmed its place as a world leader in medicinal cannabis with an investment of as much as $12 million over four years to establish the NSW Centre for Medicinal Cannabis Research and Innovation.
- ALEX DRUCE