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Medicinal Cannabis

Parliamentary Activity - Wednesday, 12 October 2016, Andrea Dawkins


Ms DAWKINS question to PREMIER, Mr HODGMAN 

Over the past two years, you and your Police minister have made a number of statements seeking to reassure Tasmanians who rely on medicinal cannabis. You stated that Tasmanian police would not unfairly target them. Yet, too frequently, we are hearing of Tasmanians with serious and chronic health issues being harassed, charged, facing court and a conviction. Is it not a fact that your Government is failing sick Tasmanians who rely on medicinal cannabis? On behalf of these Tasmanians, the Greens ask will you show some leadership? As the interim protection for legitimate medicinal cannabis users, will you move your Government toward developing a controlled access scheme for medicinal cannabis, where users can register with the Health Department and live without fear of prosecution?


ANSWER

Madam Speaker, I thank the member for her question. I will take advice to ascertain whether people have been compromised, as you say. I am not aware of that having occurred. The minister may have additional information he can provide on that matter. We are very anxious that people are not affected as you have suggested they would be. That is why we have taken strong action to engage with Tasmania Police, and to receive assurances from them. We have done so, as we have communicated in this place, in this Parliament, and to those who might be affected.

We have been keen to progress things. Bearing in mind, there is a national reform agenda and national controls that affect progress. We have announced this year that we intend to introduce a controlled access scheme. This is a significant step forward and something that we have done independently here in Tasmania. This is alongside support received from the New South Wales Government, who have been of great assistance to my Government to progress matters. This will allow Tasmanian patients to access medical cannabis products under prescription from a medical specialist, in certain circumstances, where treatment with conventional medication has been unsuccessful.

We have previously announced in this place the sorts of protection we will provide for those seeking to use the product, for our medical practitioners, and for the systems we have in place. This is to ensure a potentially risky product is subject to significant national regulation and state controls.

We are sympathetic to the needs of those in the community who suffer illness and might benefit from this, but we cannot be careless and reckless like the Leader of the Opposition. It is fine to be all care and no responsibility in opposition. He sets a very low standard on that front, but there are national and state controls, which is appropriate when you consider the nature of the product in question.

I note the progress we are making to provide greater protections, controls and support to those in our community. We have been very keen and proactive to ensure that through Tasmania Police, those in the community might not be affected in the way the member asserts they have been. I will seek further advice in relation to that matter and report back at the earliest opportunity.