Chris Ison

$12m for medical marijuana research centre

THE NSW Government will spend $12 million over four years to establish a medical marijuana research centre in an effort to become a world leader in the field.

Premier Mike Baird announced the centre would allow international experts to share their knowledge and research in a state where medical marijuana is illegal.

NSW is moving towards being the country's first state to conduct clinical trials at a cost of $9 million.

The plan has achieved bipartisan support, with recent polls suggesting almost four out of five residents support the drug becoming legal for medical purposes.

Successful applicants to run the adult trials will be named later this month.

"Whilst the potential therapeutic qualities of products derived from cannabis have been known for centuries, the centre will advance our understanding in this field and support the production of safe, reliable and affordable cannabis based medicines," Mr Baird said.

The centre will provide grants for research and product development and public education and monitor the findings of the government-funded trials.

The University of Sydney announced on Friday it had received a $33.7 million grant from accountant Barry Lambert to establish the Lambert Initiative - an Australian-first research program dedicated to medicinal marijuana.

Mr Lambert was inspired to make the donation after witnessing the suffering of his epileptic granddaughter.

"I am thrilled that the Lambert Initiative has agreed to be one of the inaugural network partners for the centre and look forward to other organisations and institutes joining us as we attempt to alleviate the suffering of seriously ill members of our community," Mr Baird said.

NSW chief scientist Professor Mary O'Kane has been appointed the director of the North Sydney centre.

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