Members of South Australia’s upper house met with patients, doctors and industry representatives on Friday to discuss progressing medical cannabis in the state.
The forum was focused on the removal of barriers to accessing medicine – and there are still plenty of those to overcome.
The forum also heard access to medical cannabis won’t only help patients, it could help state coffers.
Dianah Mieglich from the Cannabis Council of South Australia (CCSA) spoke about the millions of dollars in health budget savings that could be realised through access to safe and affordable medicinal cannabis.
Savings have already been demonstrated elsewhere.
In the USA, overall reductions in Medicare program and patient spending attributable to medical cannabis were estimated to be USD$165.2 million per year in 2013. If legalisation was nationalised, Medicare Part D spending would have plummeted in 2013 by approximately USD $470 million.
SA Greens MLC Tammy Franks appears to be growing increasingly frustrated with the situation in her state.
“Actual patient access to legal medical cannabis in our state is still only a mirage. We do not have a single authorised prescriber and are still seeing sick, and suffering people made criminals,” states a post on Ms. Franks’ Facebook page.
“The Greens will continue to work collaboratively to see a safe and affordable access to medicinal cannabis.”
Ms. Franks has previously urged State Premier Jay Weatherill to implement a compassionate amnesty form medicinal cannabis, and compassion and leniency for growers/suppliers.
In comments to ABC, Ms. Franks said the situation in South Australia was “Kafkaesque”.
“.. we have been told something is legal and yet there is no way for a patient in South Australia to go to a doctor and get a prescription,” she said.
The government denies the accusation, stating patients can talk to their medical specialist who can apply to have medical cannabis prescribed. However, only one example has been provided of a patient having been successful in doing so in South Australia.
In addition to a specialist medical practitioner needing to apply for approval to prescribe; legally produced medicinal cannabis products are not readily available for use in Australia.
Thankfully the supply situation should improve soon, with the Federal Government announcing in late February it will have a stockpile of imported medicinal cannabis products within weeks. But this will still leave South Australian patients faced with a complex process of accessing these medicines.