Call for Australian government to introduce permit system for patients to grow medicinal cannabis
A Tasmanian woman suffering from Crohn's disease has called on the federal government to introduce a permit system which would allow patients to grow cannabis for medicinal use.
In her submission to a Senate inquiry into barriers facing patients in accessing medicinal cannabis, Leone Harker said the current regulatory scheme was inadequate and patients should be able to grow their own cannabis plants.
“The medical profession has no answer of successful treatment for Crohn’s disease other than drugs that have severe side effects.”
Ms Harker said the personal impact of her struggle to access medicinal cannabis through Australia’s regulatory regime had been enormous.
“To know that there is a herb that could relieve my dreadful symptoms but is locked away and forbidden by law – this is mentally depressing in the extreme,” she said.
Since her anaphylaxis episode and the death of a close friend as the result Crohn’s disease, Ms Harker said she had been considering self-supplying cannabis.
“I know of a number of patients suffering from various disease such as epilepsy and cancer who are obtaining cannabis illegally and all are having very successful health outcomes,” she said.
“After all, it is better to be illegally alive than legally dead.”
In its submission to the inquiry, a Tasmanian pro-medicinal cannabis group called on the government to look to “functional” medicinal cannabis delivery schemes in overseas jurisdictions such as Colorado, California and Canada.
The Medical Cannabis Users Association of Tasmania described Australia’s system as a “cruel and harmful policy that simply fails to put patients first”.
MCUAT said Tasmania’s Controlled Access Scheme was “woefully inadequate” with genuinely sick patients suffering from stress, mistreatment, ignorance and cruelty.
“While some patients report success and good results, most cannot access medicinal cannabis this way,” it said.
“As many patients discover, it’s far more reliable and much better quality [cannabis] to simply grow your own.”
The submission said those who were self-supplying medicinal cannabis were being left open to poor advice, contaminated cannabis and other negative effects of black market activity.
A submission by Medical Cannabis Research Australia noted Tasmanians using the state’s controlled access scheme faced a significant barrier in not being able to access an online approval portal.
A government spokesperson said Tasmania did not make a formal submission to the Senate inquiry.
“But we continue to work collaboratively with the Commonwealth and other states and territories to ensure access to these unproven products is safe and consistent with high-quality evidence-based clinical guidelines,” the spokesperson said.
“The Controlled Access Scheme allows Tasmanians with a serious illness, which has not responded to conventional therapies, access to unproven medical cannabis products when prescribed by a suitably qualified medical specialist.
“Tasmania remains the only jurisdiction to subsidise the cost of medical cannabis products.”