Medicinal cannabis improvements needed: ACT Greens


The ACT Greens will bring forward a number of amendments to the cannabis bill, including one to provide easier access to cannabis for patients who need it for medicinal purposes.

“We need to get real about cannabis. The war on drugs has failed,” Greens spokesperson for Drug Law Reform Shane Rattenbury said today.

“The Greens support the intent of the Drugs of Dependence (Personal Cannabis Use) Amendment Bill and will be proposing a number of amendments to make it more workable in practice.

“However, we don’t believe current arrangements are working effectively to support those who use cannabis for medicinal purposes.

“We are proposing a change to ACT cannabis law to assist people suffering serious illnesses to have easier access to cannabis for medicinal use as we know that the ACT’s medicinal cannabis scheme remains hard to access.

Under the current scheme cannabis is the last option for patients who have to prove they have tried treatments from every other drug category, many of which have significant side effects. It also remains difficult for patients to find a doctor in the ACT who will prescribe medicinal cannabis. The approval process for doctors and pharmacists remains long and complicated, meaning access to the medication can be seriously delayed, sometimes for months. These kinds of restrictions don’t exist for any other medication.

The system involves multiple layers of approval through both ACT Health and the TGA and as currently designed, it makes accessing medicinal cannabis so difficult that many patients simply give up.

“That’s why we’ll be seeking to increase the allowable amount for possession for people who use cannabis medicinally to recognise that people with a medical need may need to stockpile larger quantities than recreational users and the current avenues for accessing it under prescription are overly restrictive.

“We’re also proposing the establishment of an independent cannabis advisory council to provide expertise to Government on new issues that are likely to emerge as these changes come into effect.

“Here in the Territory, in 2004 and again in 2014, the two major parties blocked the Greens’ bills to legalise cannabis for medicinal use. Unfortunately, now that a scheme does exist, it is not working for those who need it.

“My Federal Greens colleagues are also continuing to campaign for legalisation at a national level to allow for the supply and sale of cannabis in a nationally regulated market, something the ACT is unable to do on our own.”