Time for action on medical cannabis


“Since I released this legislation in July this year I have received significant feedback from the community in support,” said Mr Rattenbur

“The Assembly today moved to have the issue referred to Committee; I believe this is a good opportunity for MLAs to work together and examine the issue in more depth.

“The NSW Parliament has recently undertaken a similar enquiry which received many public submissions and witnesses.  It supported making medical cannabis available in certain circumstances to ill people.

“I am hopeful that the move to committee will not delay the implementation of this legislation for too long. Given the work already done in NSW, I would hope that our committee can report back much sooner than the 10 month timeframe allocated.

“With recent local and national media coverage uncovering the personal stories of people dying or suffering chronic illness and their plight to access medical cannabis, it is clear that there is an urgency to legislate and protect people from criminal sanctions.

“These are everyday people who are suffering from illnesses for which cannabis can help relieve symptoms, and they need help now.

“The people suffering from these illnesses cover the age spectrum, from babies and children with illnesses such as rare and severe epilepsy, to the elderly with illnesses such as terminal cancer.

“And there are more of these stories.  I have been touched by the stories of many who have contacted me directly, who talk of the struggle and stigma they suffer in order to obtain cannabis outside of the law.

“Some tell me they do not use cannabis because it is illegal, but desperately wish that they could, and they suffer every day because they can’t.

“We have the capacity to change that - to change lives.  That is what this legislation is about.

“I believe it is possible for this Assembly to endorse a scheme for the provision of medical cannabis to those who are sick or dying, with the supervision and support of medical practitioners.

“This legislation would be an enduring legacy and an important achievement for the ACT as a caring and compassionate place.