For anyone already following the story:
The interim report put forward to the Tasmanian government, calling for an urgent legislative change aimed at protecting seriously ill medical cannabis users from prosecution, has today been rejected.
Tasmanian Health Minister Michael Ferguson ruled out any changes to the current laws, telling the press: “Advice from Tasmania Police is it’s not necessary and could potentially create a new set of problems including opening up the risk that people would self-medicate, with no licensing or limit to quantity. The Police Commissioner has said Tasmania Police will not seek to criminally pursue terminally ill users of cannabis.”
This, as was pointed out by the initial inquiry, would seem to ignore the fact that there currently are a number of Aussies suffering serious and debilitating illnesses who already self-medicate and would, undoubtedly, prefer to be doing it legally and with the proper research, trials, precautions and guidelines in place.
A panel debate on medicinal weed from yesterday:
Relevant Insight episode from a few weeks back:
For anyone just coming on board who wants some background:
Back in July a Tasmanian parliamentary inquiry into the medical use of cannabis by a Legislative Council Committee – chaired by Independent MLC Ruth Forrest – sought to wade through the clusterfuck of misinformation and hysteria surrounding the use of ‘natural botanical medicinal cannabis flower and extracted cannabinoids for medical purposes.’
Officially, according to the media release, the aim was to ‘thoroughly examine all aspects related to the legalisation of the use and cultivation of cannabis for medical purposed and any barriers that prevent access for medicinal purposes.’
In a statement Forrest said:
“The Committee will provide a robust process in which the many claims and counter – claims being made about the issue can be tested. The Committee agreed to set up the inquiry in light of evidence that cannabis does have a beneficial role in medicine including in the area of palliative care use, treatment of the adverse side effects associated with chemotherapy and some forms of epilepsy.
The commercialisation of growing cannibas for medicinal purposes could also provide some economic benefits to Tasmania, including much needed employment.
At the same time, there are some concerns being expressed about the proposal and these need to be properly examined to ensure that there would be no negative impact from legalising cannabis, even in such a very limited way.”
As of the 20th of November, the inquiry had received 77 written submissions and verbal evidence by 23 witnesses over three days of public hearings back in September. They heard from a number of organisations including the Alcohol, Tobacco and Other Drugs Council of Tas (ATDC), Hemp Australia, Drug Free Australia (DFA) and the Tassie government themselves. (A complete list with transcripts can be found HERE).
What prompted them to prematurely get amongst it before the report was fully concluded and release an ‘urgent call for cannabis law reform’ interim report was:
via Interim Report.
Their recommendations basically amounted to: legislative changes to protect sick people and cultivars growing for sick people, framework put in place to help people use medicinal marijuana safely and a the Tasmanian Government working with other states, territories and companies, with relevant expertise, to get the whole thing sorted out. (You can read the full report HERE).
The first part has obviously been rejected -___- but Ferguson did say that the government was supportive of use “subject to a proper evidence-based approach, strong local regulatory framework and appropriate approvals from national regulators.” An opinion seconded by Tony Abbott that has resulted in the NSW Government recently approving of medical marijuana trials for treatment of severe and terminal illnesses.
Shadow attorney-general Lara Giddings said of the opposition’s reaction to the findings: “The Legislative Council report is consistent with Labor’s policy on medicinal cannabis.”
In the meantime, the committee’s inquiry is set to keep going and they’ll be taking their party on the road to hear interstate evidence before submitting their final report in 2015 because, obviously, something has still gotta give.
As pointed out by the ATDC in their submission, a recent survey found that 69% of respondents supported changing legislation to allow use of weed for medical purposes, 74% supported a clinical trial of the drug and, like it or not, “Cannabis is the most commonly used illicit drug in Australia and has been used as a medicine for thousands of years.”
TL;DR: 420 Legislate It.