Victoria’s legalising of medicinal cannabis has given efforts in other states added momentum and created an exchange of barbs between political parties.
As we reported yesterday, new legislation in Victoria now permits the cultivation and manufacture of marijuana for medicinal purposes. Some children with severe epilepsy will be the first able to access medicinal cannabis products in the state.
The South Australian Opposition has seized on the event, saying SA was well behind best practice and “dragging the chain”.
“Jack Snelling does not seem to want to embrace this opportunity to relieve children who are suffering horrendous symptoms,” said SA Opposition Leader Steven Marshall of the state’s Minister for Health.
However, Mr Snelling said he already has authority under the Controlled Substances Act to permit some patients access to medical cannabis; and has been contemplating exercising these powers – in one case.
Across Bass Strait, federal and state Labor and the Tasmanian Greens have applied more pressure to Tasmania’s Hodgman government; saying the premier should be following in his Victorian counterpart’s footsteps.
“Tasmanians with life-threatening illnesses must not be forced to go to Victoria to get legal access to medicinal cannabis,” said Tasmanian Labor Senator Carol Brown.
In February, Tasmania Labor committed to decriminalising the possession and use of cannabis for medicinal purposes and released a new policy document.
In reply to Senator Brow, the Tasmanian government posted a very brief response. It claims the Liberals have been a long-standing supporter of clinical trials and the potential use of medical cannabis products, while “the Labor-Green Government did nothing in 16 years.”
In December, the Tasmanian state government inked a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with New South Wales for collaboration on clinical trials, research and cultivation of cannabis for medical and scientific applications.
Tasmanian Minister for Health, Michael Ferguson, states the government will have more news of its progress in “the near future”.
Tasmania has in the past been accused of shutting out medical cannabis in order to protect its huge poppy industry; which apparently perceives industrial hemp and medical cannabis as a threat. The state’s opium poppy sector, which produces around half of the world’s legal supply, is worth around $120 million a year to farmers.