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Crowdfunded medicinal cannabis education campaign mobilises in Tasmania

Photo: The Little Green Van was refurbished through a crowdfunding camaign. (Facebook: Andrew Irving) Two medicinal cannabis education trailers are operating in Tasmania in an attempt to encourage people to talk about its use. The crowdfunded project has been organised by a group called Medicinal Cannabis and Hemp Tasmania. The trailers will travel the state delivering educational material, with people available to answer questions from the public. Organiser Andrew Irving said the idea was based on one developed in Queensland. "I thought we could do something like that down here," he said. "One for the north, one for the south [of Tasmania] to try to help people understand cannabis better, help remove the stigma that has been attached to it since prohibition 1937 and all the misinformation that has been spread." The Tasmanian Government announced in April it would allow specialist doctors to prescribe medicinal cannabis for people with serious or chronic illnesses from 2017 under a Controlled Access Scheme. Mr Irving is full-time carer to his wife, Marilyn, who has a neurodegenerative condition and uses medicinal cannabis. He said despite national moves to legalise it, he fears the approval process in Tasmania will be lengthy and licence fees prohibitive. "That could take six months [for approval], the person is still suffering and in pain if they're not operating illegally and treating themselves," he said. "We need to have private growing rights to treat our loved ones without fear of prosecution. We've still got a long way to go." Vans aim to dispel myths Labor senator Carol Brown was at the launch of the trailers and welcomed the initiative.

Photo: The campaign raised enough money to fit out two educational trailers. (Facebook: Andrew Irving) "Andrew has been supported by those who have also worked on the trailer and the many people who in the past six months have donated about $3,000 to get it up and running," she said. "He has worked tirelessly on the trailer which is designed to educate people and dispel the myths surrounding medicinal cannabis." Earlier this month it became legal to cultivate and manufacture medicinal cannabis in Australia, which means people can apply for a licence to grow their own cannabis crop. But it remains up to the states to decide whether the drug will be allowed and who will be able to use it, dispense it, who will be able to approve it, and what dosage and form of medicinal cannabis is appropriate. Mr Irving said the trailers contained information about cannabis, its uses and legal history. "Businesses can have it parked outside their premises. I've already got a couple lined up in Hobart," he said. "Hopefully people go away and research for themselves."

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