Ms PATTEN (Northern Metropolitan) — My question is for the Minister for Agriculture, the Honourable Jaala Pulford. Following the passing of the Access to Medicinal Cannabis Act 2016 earlier this year, the horticultural trial is underway at a secure facility. The cultivation trial will cultivate and extract cannabis for supply to the first patient group. Though the trial will be providing ongoing information about the medicinal cannabis products to be produced in Victoria, an initial strain and ratio has been selected for cultivation. Can the minister advise as to the strain of cannabis being used in the current government trial, including the ratio of cannabinoids, particularly cannabidiol and tetrahydrocannabinolic acid in the strain?
I look forward to seeing that response. Understanding the specifics of the strain that was selected for initial cultivation is crucial to those families who may be able to apply to be part of the trial under the new legislation. Many are currently very nervous that the government will not produce a product that matches the ones that they are currently illicitly accessing by either growing and distilling them themselves or being supplied with by one of the many compassionate Australian manufacturers. They know what are in these products and where they come from, they know the cannabinoid ratios and, most importantly, they know they are working for their children. Can the minister advise as to whether the seeds being used in the trial are genetically modified and whether the trial crop is being grown indoors or outdoors?
RESPONSE: The horticulture trial is testing a range of cannabis types and strains to find out what particular strain will be suitable for the first patient cohort and for other potential patients in the future. The type of cannabis being grown in the horticulture trial is Cannabis indica and Cannabis sativa. Nine strains are currently being tested, however, this number is expected to increase. The strains have been chosen to cover a range of cannabinoid profiles, including a mix of high cannabidiol (CBD) and low-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), an equal mix of CBD and THC, and a mix of low CBD and high THC. The first patient cohort will be children with severe epilepsy. A high CBD and low-THC profile is expected to suit this first patient cohort. In accordance with the Access to Medicinal Cannabis Act 2016, the final approved medicinal cannabis product(s) for the first patient group will be specified on the publicly accessible register kept by the Health Secretary. In accordance with the Act, the Health Secretary must ensure that an entry for an approved medicinal cannabis product includes sufficient information to identify the product. The horticultural trial is being conducted indoors with seeds that have not been genetically modified.