AFL 2021: Mark Brayshaw resigns, AFL Coaches Association, medicinal cannabis, coach payouts, coach contracts


The outgoing AFL Coaches Association CEO has teed off at the league for allowing a “disgraceful” six-month payout clause for senior coaches, claiming it allows “moron boards” to sack their coaches with little repercussion.

In late 2019, the AFL put into place a maximum six-month settlement for any new coaching deals at an AFL-funded club regardless of the length of the contract.

The move was made to avoid any more million-dollar payouts to sacked senior coaches, but Mark Brayshaw, who announced he is leaving the AFLCA after six years to take join a medicinal cannabis company, unloaded on the change as he left.

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CEO Mark Brayshaw resigns from AFL Coaches’ Association to pursue medicinal cannabis venture


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He was a candidate for the North Melbourne CEO job that Ben Amarfio eventually won and his three boys, Angus, Andrew and Hamish, have all been on AFL lists, with Angus and Andrew high-profile midfielders at Melbourne and Fremantle.

However, the coronavirus pandemic led to an upheaval in football departments with clubs standing down coaching staff and the AFL leading a narrative that claimed the game was poorer due to the proliferation of coaches.

The AFL also cut the football department cap from
$9.7 million to $6.2 million a year in 2021, which led to many coaches leaving or seeking work in football at the community level and some disquiet with the league’s regard for the coaching role.

In a statement Brayshaw said he had loved the job he held for six years.

“The coaches have inspired me with their work ethic, empathy and candour. I’m lost in admiration for the role they play in our game and have been very grateful for the support I’ve received from them and this wonderful industry,” Brayshaw said.

After such a tumultuous year, in which Rhyce Shaw parted ways with North Melbourne for personal reasons, and the personal lives of respected coaches making headlines, senior coaches such as Hawthorn’s Alastair Clarkson have expressed concern about the future of the profession.

The AFLCA will canvass members before beginning their search in February with Brayshaw to remain in the position until April.

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Compound from medicinal herb kills brain-eating amoebae in lab studies — ScienceDaily


Primary amoebic meningoencephalitis (PAM), a deadly disease caused by the “brain-eating amoeba” Naegleria fowleri, is becoming more common in some areas of the world, and it has no effective treatment. Now, researchers reporting in ACS Chemical Neuroscience have found that a compound isolated from the leaves of a traditional medicinal plant, Inula viscosa or “false yellowhead,” kills the amoebae by causing them to commit cell suicide in lab studies, which could lead to new treatments.

PAM, characterized by headache, fever, vomiting, hallucinations and seizures, is almost always fatal within a couple of weeks of developing symptoms. Although the disease, which is usually contracted by swimming in contaminated freshwater, is rare, increasing cases have been reported recently in the U.S., the Philippines, southern Brazil and some Asian countries. Amphotericin B is the most common therapy given to those with the infection. It can kill N. fowleri in the lab, but it isn’t very effective when given to patients, likely because it cannot cross the blood-brain barrier. Ikrame Zeouk, José Piñero, Jacob Lorenzo-Morales and colleagues wanted to explore whether compounds isolated from I. viscosa, a strong-smelling plant that has long been used for traditional medicine in the Mediterranean region, could effectively treat PAM.

The researchers first made an ethanol extract from the herb’s leaves, finding that it could kill N. fowleri amoebae. Then, they isolated and tested specific compounds from the extract. The most potent compound, inuloxin A, killed amoebae in the lab by disrupting membranes and causing mitochondrial changes, chromatin condensation and oxidative damage, ultimately forcing the parasites to undergo programmed cell death, or apoptosis. Although inuloxin A was much less potent than amphotericin B in the lab, the structure of the plant-derived compound suggests that it might be better able to cross the blood-brain barrier. More studies are needed to confirm this hypothesis, the researchers say.

The authors acknowledge funding from the European Regional Development Fund, the Spanish Ministry of Economic Affairs and Digital Transformation, the Spanish Ministry of Science, Innovation and Universities, the University of La Laguna and the Augustin de Betancourt Foundation.

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Medicinal cannabis company turning the region green


A BIOPHARMACEUTICAL company about to start growing medicinal cannabis in the Lismore LGA will grow and donate 60,000 tube stock native plants annually for local regeneration projects.

CannaPacific confirmed today it will grow the plants at its cultivation and research facility near Lismore.

The project was supported by environmental enterprise Greening Australia, who will be providing native seed.

CannaPacific CEO Joshua Dennis said the company has forged a strong relationship with Greening Australia.

“We share the enthusiasm of Greening Australia, the Australian Government and the broader community in wanting to see the regeneration of our unique native forests, and the restoration of the natural habitat for our native animals and birds,” he said.

“CannaPacific’s agreement with Greening Australia will enable us to contribute through growing and maintaining approximately 60,000 native tube stock plants annually to an advanced stage of growth on our Lismore property.

“Once the trees are ready to be placed in local projects, this would produce plantings equivalent in size to 2500 football fields per year. That’s a real win for the environment.”

In the wake of the devastating bushfires that desolated the Australian landscape, Greening Australia with expertise in the seed space, were appointed by the Federal Government to lead the development of a strategic program to build and secure native seed and plant supply for landscape restoration.

The CannaPacific production facility near Lismore includes a 10,000 sqm Dutch glasshouse and high-security outdoor cultivation area.

Mr Dennis said the recent bushfires were compounded by the distressing scenes of native animals struggling to survive, and the current pandemic afterwards.

“Those events have been truly terrible. It’s a fragile world that we live in. We see plants in the ground as a big part of the solution in helping our native flora and fauna to regenerate and to stop erosion,” he said.

CannaPacific’s new production facility includes a 10,000 sqm Dutch glasshouse and high-security outdoor cultivation area, capable of producing over 20,000kg of premium cannabis flower per annum.

The company develops new cannabinoid-based medicines and received a licence by the Australian Federal Government to cultivate and research medicinal cannabis products via its 18ha Northern Rivers site.

This means that Lismore will now house not only the Northern NSW’ first licensed medicinal cannabis facility, but one of only a handful in Australia.





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Huge change to rules around medicinal cannabis



MEDICINAL cannabis could soon be available over the counter in a major regulatory change that has been proposed in Australia.

The change would down-schedule cannabidiol (CBD), making it available without a prescription.

The Therapeutic Goods Administration this week released a notice of interim decision to amend the Poisons Standard for CBD.

The proposed amendment to down-schedule CBD from Schedule 4 would allow CBD to be supplied for therapeutic use under a new Schedule 3 (Pharmacist Only Medicine) entry.

This new, nonprescription cannabis channel would allow Australian patients to purchase CBD products over the counter upon consultation with a pharmacist.

Josh Fegan, the chief executive of Australian medicinal cannabis company Althea, said they had engaged with the TGA throughout the consultation process and supported the down scheduling of CBD.

He said the proposed amendment would improve access to CBD products for therapeutic use.

“We applaud the TGA’s interim decision in this matter and see it as one of the biggest developments in our industry to date,” he said.

“The interim decision reflects the significant shift in community and government attitudes towards medicinal cannabis since it was legalised in Australia in late 2016, which has seen it move from a fringe alternative towards an accepted mainstream option.

“As a strong advocate for patient access, Althea has closely monitored the proposed amendment since it began and has participated in the consultation process.

“We are excited by the TGA’s interim decision to down schedule CBD products and see this development as a big step forward for prescription cannabis products already available in Australia.”

The TGA’s interim decision places restrictions on the preparation and dose, dosage form, pack size, age and limiting supply to Australian registered products.

Other requirements include child-resistant closures unless the product is packed in blister or strip packaging, and limiting supply to medicines including CBD which are entered on the Australian Register of Therapeutic Goods.

A final decision is expected to be made in November.





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Medicinal cannabis scheme in Tasmania has families waiting as $10m facility opens


Production of medicinal cannabis in Tasmania is booming, but those wanting to use it for medical reasons say the state’s scheme is failing and driving more people to the black market.

Lyn Cleaver, who lives outside Launceston, has been illegally growing and producing cannabis oil to help her son Jeremy for years.

Jeremy has severe refractory epilepsy and an acquired brain injury from encephalitis — an inflammation of the brain — and suffers from regular seizures.

The family has previously applied to join Tasmania’s medicinal cannabis controlled access scheme but were rejected because they had not “tried and failed” every conventional medication available.

Ms Cleaver said her son had adverse reactions to many conventional medications, which was why they turned to cannabis oil.

Ms Cleaver says she is about to apply again to have Jeremy legally prescribed cannabis oil.(ABC Northern Tasmania: Manika Champ)

“It’s both incredibly empowering to do this for Jeremy and terrifying at the same time,” Ms Cleaver said.

The family is about to try again to join the Government’s scheme with the help of their neurologist.

“We’re fortunate because we can cultivate Jeremy’s medicine ourselves, a lot of parents who are out there can’t and are picking over mouldy cannabis that they’re buying off the black market to make medicine for their children.

“That is alarming and that in itself should make the Government realise that the way the scheme is working in Tasmania isn’t working overwhelmingly for patients.”

‘Mainland position a much better system’

Tasmania started its medicinal cannabis controlled access scheme in September 2017 — in the three years, only 16 patients have been approved from 36 applications.

In other parts of Australia, general practitioners can apply for patients to be prescribed with legal medicinal cannabis.

In Tasmania, that application can only be made by certain health specialists.

Ivan Dean standing at his desk looking at paperwork
Ivan Dean says the scheme for medicinal cannabis is failing patients.(ABC Northern Tasmania: Manika Champ)

MLC Ivan Dean, who is a former police commander, said the fact Tasmanian GPs could not prescribe was a barrier.

“Getting a specialist doctor in the first place is quite difficult for a lot of these people. The mainland position is a much better system.”

In March, a Senate committee tasked with investigating the “current barriers to patient access to medicinal cannabis in Australia” recommended:

“That the Tasmanian Government immediately join all other jurisdictions in participating in the Therapeutic Goods Administration’s single national online application pathway for accessing unregistered medicinal cannabis and reducing state-based requirements for medicinal cannabis approval.”

Tasmanian Labor senators Anne Urquhart and Catryna Bilyk, who were part of that inquiry, have also written to Health Minister Sarah Courtney calling for Tasmania’s scheme to be improved.

Providing cannabis to the country

Former health minister Michael Ferguson, who introduced the state’s scheme in 2017, helped officially open a $10 million medicinal cannabis processing facility at Westbury in Tasmania’s north earlier this week.

Three men inspecting green cannabis plants inside a new medicinal cannabis grow house at Westbury in northern Tasmania
Michael Ferguson (centre) believes the state’s controlled access scheme is better than other states.(ABC Northern Tasmania: Manika Champ)

The Tasmanian Alkaloids facility aims to produce nine million bottles of medicine each year, which will be distributed across Australia through government schemes.

Executive general manager Colin Ralph said the product was already being sent across the country.

“[We’ll] be working with the regulatory authorities and making sure that the Australian patients are covered firstly and then we’ll be looking to export out,” he said.

The State Government provided a $10 million loan for the facility.

Mr Ferguson said he believed Tasmania’s scheme was better than those run in other states, mainly because it heavily subsidised the cost of medicine for participants.

He said the national approach was not what Tasmanian medical professionals wanted.

Two men in white lab gowns in front of green cannabis plants
State coordinator-general John Perry (left) and Colin Ralph from Tasmanian Alkaloids inside the new facility.(ABC Northern Tasmania: Manika Champ)

Tim Jackson, chairman of the Tasmanian branch of the Royal Australian College of GPs, said while it was the college’s policy that all states should be on an equal page, it was not a bad thing that Tasmania was moving slowly.

“The evidence is still a little bit sketchy as to what conditions we should be using medicinal cannabis for and what are the potential side effects,” Dr Jackson said.

“With further training, I think GPs would be happy to prescribe, but because of the limited number of conditions that would require this treatment, it’s probably better to limit the prescribing to people who do it more often [for now].”

Those still waiting for a legal prescription, like Ms Cleaver, hope more patients and not just businesses will soon benefit from the growth of medicinal cannabis industry.

“I think it’s wonderful that industry is being supported within the state to produce cannabinoid medicines, but it’s a real slap in the face to patients like Jeremy that can’t access the legal product and rely on us taking a risk,” she said.



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