Cannatrek has thrown its weight behind the Murdoch Children’s Research Institute’s Medicinal Cannabis Research Program, providing seed funding and potentially product for future trials.

Run by developmental paediatrician Associate Professor Daryl Efron, the program researches the effects medicinal cannabis can have on children with developmental disorders including autism, intellectual disability and Tourette’s 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, with Cannatrek contributing seed funding for infrastructure and expansion of the program.

The company is also looking at supplying medicinal cannabis for future trials.

High-quality trials are needed to better understand the role of medicinal cannabis in treating children

Dr Efron said: “We are thrilled and thankful that Cannatrek has seen fit to support our research. The program allows us to generate good-quality evidence on the potential benefits of medicinal cannabis for children.”

He added while there is “quite a lot of evidence” on the benefits of medicinal cannabis in adults, there is very little clinical trial data for children, despite interest in the treatment from parents.

“High-quality trials are urgently needed to better understand the role of medicinal cannabis for these patients,” said Dr Efron. “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.”

Dr Efron said while doctors are right to be circumspect about prescribing medicinal cannabis to children, the program will promote doctor education as evidence from the trials comes in.

Cannatrek CEO Tommy Huppert said: “We regularly collate data from the people who use our products — we have more than 10,000 patients — so the data that comes out of the 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.”