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Medicinal Cannabis Trial Rethink Needed

Cassy O'Connor MP  -  Wednesday, 2 July 2014

Tags: Medicinal Cannabis

Hodgman Government Ministers are giving wildly different reasons for the decision to block a trial of medicinal cannabis in Tasmania, Greens Health spokesperson, Cassy O'Connor MP, said today.

"On the one hand we have the Health Minister refusing to approve a clinical trial at UTAS for 'safety and security' reasons, on the other we have the Minister for Primary Industries justifying the refusal on the grounds of protecting the interests of Tasmania's poppy industry,” Ms O’Connor said.

"Two Ministers, two different stories and neither of them a sound enough reason for knocking back a nation-leading trial of medicinal Cannabis for a treatment that has significant, proven health benefits, particularly to increase the appetites of cancer patients suffering the debilitating effects of chemotherapy.”

"Minister Michael Ferguson needs to keep suffering Tasmanians like young Mum, Natalie Daley, from the North West Coast at the front of his mind and review his decision to block the trial of medicinal cannabis at the University of Tasmania.”

"With the stroke of a pen, Mr Ferguson could ensure research on this important health issue is progressed in a safe, clinical trial at UTAS and put Tasmania at the leading edge of research nationally on medicinal cannabis.

“A humanitarian and compassionate approach would be to grant approval to allow this trial to proceed, and then have its outcomes peer reviewed and assessed on merit by medical experts and authorities such as the Therapeutic Goods Association.”

"Medical cannabis is now legally available in 22 U.S. States, backed up by a large body of medical research and last year, a NSW Legislative Council Parliamentary Committee, comprised of representatives from the National, Liberal, Labor, Shooters, and Greens parties, unanimously recommend that medicinal cannabis be made legally available for selected use pharmacotherapy.”

“The NSW parliamentary committee report states, “in general terms medical cannabis has potential as an effective treatment for some medical conditions with appropriate safeguards in place [and] cannabis products are emerging as a promising area of medicine, most notably in respect of a number of painful conditions that do not respond to existing conditions. Given this evidence, a compassionate approach is appropriate here...” [1]

“Tasmania could be positioned to do both what is caring and right by people suffering serious medical conditions, as well as securing investment in developing a local job-creating industry.”

"Tasmania has a proud and internationally recognised reputation for providing necessary safe and regulated conditions for the growing of opium poppies, which we should be leveraging to corner this potential industry and market.”

“It makes good health, medical and economic sense for the Minister, Michael Ferguson, to review his initial decision and allow the proposed trial of medicinal cannabis to proceed,” Ms O’Connor said.