Medicinal cannabis will be easier to access in Queensland with new laws passing Parliament but people should be able to grow their own, a Greens MP argues.
A bill passed on Wednesday night repeals laws from three years ago and means medical cannabis will be treated the same as other drugs of addiction (schedule 8 medicines) or prescription drugs (schedule 4).
Queensland Health Minister Steven Miles said the changes meant medical cannabis would be treated the same as other prescription medications. Credit: AAP
Health Minister Steven Miles said the changes streamlined the prescription process by removing state-based approvals and would mean patients would have access to treatment sooner.
"If cannabis is a suitable way to treat a patient's condition or associated pain, then we believe they should have the same access to it as any other medication," he said.
"These changes mean medical cannabis will be treated exactly the same as other prescription medications."But Greens MP Michael Berkman said the repeal of the old regime reflected the government's broad unwillingness to deal with cannabis in a way that minimised harm, rather than putting people at risk of criminalisation.
Greens MP Michael Berkman.Credit:AAP
"The bill does not address the ongoing concerns of advocates about the cost of these medicines and the difficulty in accessing them," he said.
"The bill does nothing to assist those who face criminal sanctions because of steps they have taken to access these medicines."
Any medical practitioner will be able to prescribe schedule 4 medicinal cannabis products and any specialist medical practitioner, including specialist GPs, will be able to prescribe schedule 8 medicinal cannabis without approval from the state.
Non-specialist medical practitioners will still require a state-based approval for schedule 8 medicinal cannabis.
The federal government will maintain controls on the use of unapproved therapeutic goods through the Commonwealth licensing and approval system.
It will remain illegal for members of the public to grow their own cannabis.
"It was the Palaszczuk government that led Australia in 2015 by enabling doctors to prescribe medicinal cannabis to patients ... Now that the Commonwealth has caught up, we can streamline that process even further," Mr Miles said.
The minister said several companies were working towards producing medicinal cannabis products in Queensland.
Mr Berkman said the Greens supported the legalisation and regulation of cannabis for adult use, "under the watch of a government regulator".
"As of December last year, there were nearly 300 people in prison in Queensland whose most serious offence was possession or use of illicit drugs."
LNP health spokeswoman Ros Bates said the opposition supported the health benefits of medicinal cannabis overseen by doctors to help patients where there was evidence it would help treat certain conditions.
Medicinal cannabis can be used for conditions such as chemotherapy-induced nausea, epilepsy with severe seizures and palliative care.
The omnibus bill also updates the notifiable dust lung disease register to include silicosis; grants powers to compel a person responsible for pollution to notify the public of any health risks; requires people who work with radiation to be licensed; allows human body parts used at a school of anatomy to be cremated without a corresponding death certificate; and requires a retirement village operator to purchase an unsold unit from an outgoing resident 18 months after the resident terminates their right to reside there.
The LNP did not support the retirement village changes, arguing people living in freehold retirement villages operated by residents would be forced to stump up money to buy the units of others when they sold.
"Let us extrapolate it to the extreme and say that 50 of these people, for one reason or another, decide that they want to terminate their right to live in this facility," LNP housing spokesman Michael Hart said.
"That would then mean that the other 100 people who are there have to come up with $25 million to pay them out. How can we possibly expect the people who live in these villages to come up with that sort of money?"
Originally published here: https://www.smh.com.au/politics/queensland/mp-calls-for-queenslanders-to-be-allowed-to-grow-cannabis-for-personal-use-20190404-p51apz.html