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Medicinal cannabis gap between Tasmania, mainland

WIDE GAP: Most Tasmanians who applied to access medicinal cannabis were knocked back. Picture: Paul Scambler.

Just 36 applications to get medicinal cannabis through Tasmania's Controlled Access Scheme have been made and more than half were knocked back, a Department of Health spokeswoman has confirmed.

Since the scheme came into effect in 2017, 16 Tasmanians have been allowed to access medicinal cannabis.

On the mainland, where a Specialist Access Scheme operates in all jurisdictions and any registered medical practitioner can prescribe medicinal cannabis, the Therapeutic Goods Administration has approved more than 56,000 applications.

Greens leader Cassy O'Connor said the state government should adopt the finding of a recent Senate inquiry which recommended Tasmania become part of the Specialist Access Scheme.

"We've got the weakest, most obstructive medicinal cannabis scheme in the country," she said.

"[The] Controlled Access Scheme is so controlling rarely can anyone access it."

Ms O'Connor said it was good to see growth of Tasmania's medicinal cannabis industry, but the government's priorities were the wrong way around.

"The government has prioritised an industry over people who are sick and whose specialists say need medicinal cannabis," she said.

The former Health Minister who introduced the Controlled Access Scheme, Michael Ferguson, said GPs were not keen to be prescribers of medicinal cannabis.

"GPs in Tasmania, through their medical college and through the Australian Medical Association, don't want that approach, they want the specialist to be the compassionate and expert provider of that healthcare," he said.

Other Australian states and territories should follow the lead of Tasmania, Mr Ferguson said.

"Better than any other state in the country, we actually provide the product as well, which can be very expensive," he said.

"It would be a good thing if other states would adopt the Tasmanian approach."

Originally published here:

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