Last week, the New South Wales state government denied terminally ill and chronic pain sufferers access to medical cannabis. It blocked a law attempting to decriminalize marijuana possession for people suffering severe medical ailments. The legislation would have enabled legitimate patients to possess up to 15 grams of cannabis for medical purposes.
Introduced by the Labor Party and blocked by the Liberal Legislative Assembly, the proposed bill was actually the result of recommendations from a bipartisan parliamentary inquiry tasked with investigating the use of marijuana for medical patients. Despite this, and despite no bipartisanship presence at the time of voting, the LLA voted against it.
According to a statement made by NSW Labor Leader, Luke Foley, “By refusing to pass this legislation, the NSW Government has put up an unnecessary hurdle for sufferers of terminal and chronic illnesses. It is deeply disappointing that the Government has denied legislation that will restore dignity to those people seeking temporary relief from the pain and suffering of their afflictions.”
Foley continued by saying, “Those who are suffering from terminal and serious medical conditions deserve sympathy and support, and they should not be treated like criminals for seeking respite from relentless and unwavering illness.” In Tasmania, an island state further south, Labor politician Senator Lisa Singh is taking a different approach to fighting the medical cannabis cause.
She has been campaigning for a faster, more consistent program for marijuana licensing in the senate itself. Singh said, “We are particularly concerned that the government has done little to ensure a consistent supply of regulated and affordable product.” Last week, in an appeal to the Australian senate, she urged the government to establish a robust medical marijuana market in Tasmania.
In particular, Singh wants to ensure that Tasmania Alkaloids, a global opioid supplier partnered with AusCann, a medical marijuana firm, is able to secure a closed-loop chain for marijuana production. “Closed-loop production is key to a successful Tasmanian medical cannabis industry,” she said, and “The opportunity to grow, manufacture, and distribute directly from one location alleviates legitimate security concerns.”
Instead of focusing exclusively on the issue of patient access, Singh also wants Tasmania to benefit from a thriving medical marijuana economy. According to her research, “Tasmania is ideally positioned to become a manufacturing base both for the domestic and international markets in medicinal cannabis. The Australian domestic market for medicinal cannabis has alone been estimated to be worth AU$100 million a year.”
Singh continued to say, “If Tasmania is able to seize the opportunity of becoming a global leader in the cultivation and manufacture of medicinal cannabis, then there will be similar substantial economic benefits to reap for my home state, like we have from cultivating the world’s legal opium crops.” Before such a dream ever becomes economically achievable, however, the federal government has much to do.
To realize the economic potential of medical marijuana, the government must develop a consistent program of applying its cannabis laws across all states. In an interview, Singh said the government must be able to ‘drive consistency across states on the legal treatment of people currently accessing medicinal cannabis.” Singh is not the only Tasmanian senator fighting the medical marijuana cause.
Jalaa Pulford, Victorian Minister of Agriculture and Regional Development, toured Canada’s medical cannabis facilities under the guidance of CannGroup CEO, Peter Crock. Support for medical marijuana at state level is positive news for patients and growers alike in some areas of Australia, but rising frustrations continue against state governments, such as New South Wales, blocking all efforts to ensure medical patients have access to compassionate treatment.