Plea for cannabis access
A GEELONG man who nursed his dying partner through her final days with the help of medicinal cannabis oil says delays and red tape in its roll out is causing widespread suffering.
Jason Littlewood said there had been little progress despite the Federal Government conditionally approving its use earlier this year.
“My concern is when people go to the doctor to ask for it because they’re in pain, how does the doctor judge someone elses’s pain. I’ve spoken to doctors here in Geelong already who say they won’t prescribe it no matter what because of the taboo around it,” Mr Littlewood said. “We’ve got to get real about this.
“Geelong has the ability to pave the way for this treatment but the stalling and waiting now, and the red tape around people’s ability to access it is going to see people suffer.”
He said his partner, Narelle Donald, was kept alive for 13 months using “one or two rice grains” of cannabis oil three times a day after he made the substance illegally for more than a year.
Ms Donald died last October after multiple rounds of chemotherapy therapy.
But despite Victoria taking steps towards helping children with severe epilepsy to access medicinal cannabis from next year, others remained out in the cold without access, Mr Littlewood said.
On October 19, the Senate united in support of Australian Greens leader, Richard Di Natale’s private Bill to open up access to medicinal cannabis for terminally ill patients.
This Bill aims to secure access to medicinal cannabis for patients with a terminal illness, and creates a level playing field for the emerging medicinal cannabis industry.
Senator Di Natale said the next step was to have it pass through the Lower House.
“These patients are dying and their doctors believe medicinal cannabis may alleviate their suffering, but the Government is stopping them from getting it,” he said.
“This Bill will ensure that medicinal cannabis is available under category A of the special access scheme — whether it is imported or produced here in Australia.
“We want to support Australian medicinal cannabis suppliers to produce domestic supply.”
Last year Parliament legal- and radio- ised medicinal cannabis use in Australia for some patients.
All medicinal cannabis products need to be prescribed by a medical practitioner as part of a treatment plan.
Barwon Health has also been part of a trial with the University of NSW and is looking at the effectiveness of medical cannabis in alleviating symptoms and pain in terminally ill patients.
State Health Minister Jill Hennessy said the State Government was calling on the Commonwealth to add the medicines to the PBS.
“In March, the State Government imported a medicinal cannabis product so that 29 of Victoria’s most severely ill children and their families could have peace of mind accessing a safe, legal, quality controlled medicinal cannabis product in a safe clinical environment,” Ms Hennessy said.
“The Commonwealth has now opened up access to any patient who has the support of a medical specialist. It now needs to show it is serious by bringing them into the PBS as soon as possible.
“Here in Victoria we’re getting on with developing the first ever Australian made legal medicinal cannabis product, and a thriving medicinal cannabis industry.”
GIVE THEM ACCESS: Jason Littlewood is advocating for patients to gain access to medical cannabis after losing his partner, Narelle Donald, inset, to cancer.