Armidale student Jacqueline McCarthy is tapping into a whole new perspective on medicinal cannabis with an innovative new study.
The former nurse and pain management specialist is now in her fourth year of pharmacy at the University of New England and decided to take on a groundbreaking research study as part of her honours thesis in a bid to make up her own mind about the controversial new treatment.
Ms McCarthy’s research comes after the Federal Government amended the Narcotic Drugs Act 1967 in February this year.
The amending legislation, the Narcotic Drugs Amendment Act 2016, makes provisions for the cultivation of cannabis for medicinal and related scientific purposes.
Ms McCarthy said she was always interested in how medicinal cannabis might provide patients with a better quality of life.
“I worked on a HIV ward in Sydney at St Vincent’s [20-years-ago] and back then HIV didn’t have the life expectancy it does now.
“Back then it was six months to a year [life expectancy] and these patients were growing tumours, they were in pain all the time, they didn’t want to eat, they were on chemo and they just waste away in front of you.
“I saw it [cannabis] used, not in a legal sense, but family and friends would bring some cannabis in for them and they would just want to eat and interact and it gave them a better quality of life.
“That always stayed in my mind.”
Ms McCarthy said she has also seen what opioids and strong painkillers could do to a persons quality of life.
“Seeing what the opioids do to people… I think it’s not appropriate for everyone,” she said.
“Now, changing careers I’m looking at it from a pharmacy point of view.
“I want to find out what pharmacists think, how it should be scheduled, monitored, what patients are appropriate, how do we dose them.
“I’ve always had an open mind about it but I think it needs to be done properly, that’s what I’m investigating.”
Ms McCarthy said pharmacists were not sufficiently involved prior to the new legislation and hoped her research would help to give them a voice on the issue.
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