Port Douglas & Mossman Gazette - - NEWS -

The in­tro­duc­tion of leg­is­la­tion that will al­low the cul­ti­va­tion in Aus­tralia of cannabis for medic­i­nal and sci­en­tific pur­poses is a mas­sive win that will change the lives of Far North­ern­ers.

Wed­nes­day morn­ing, Min­is­ter for Health Sus­san Ley MP pre­sented the Nar­cotic Drug Amend­ment Bill 2016 into the House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives. The Bill, when passed, will amend the Nar­cotic Drug Act 1967 to en­able the cul­ti­va­tion of cannabis for medic­i­nal pur­poses in a way that is com­pli­ant with Aus­tralia’s in­ter­na­tional obli­ga­tions.

This was a very sig­nif­i­cant day, when medic­i­nal cannabis was ac­knowl­edged as be­ing a prod­uct that does make a real dif­fer­ence to peo­ple suf­fer­ing a chronic con­di­tion or ter­mi­nal dis­ease.

I un­der­stand the Bill has the back­ing of the Op­po­si­tion, so when suc­cess­fully passed it will mean that pa­tients and their fam­ily mem­bers will no longer have to hide in the shad­ows and source cannabis off the street, and law en­force­ment will no longer have to pros­e­cute peo­ple who have bought cannabis - for medic­i­nal pur­poses - il­le­gally.

I’d like to thank all the pa­tients and fam­i­lies who have helped me on this jour­ney and raised pub­lic aware­ness about their sit­u­a­tions, in par­tic­u­lar Lucy Haslam and her son Dan in New South Wales, Lanai Carter and her son Lind­say from Bris­bane, and lo­cally the Hickey fam­ily and Debbi Cliff

In Tues­day’s Lib­eral Party Room meet­ing, I con­grat­u­lated Min­is­ter Ley on her ef­forts and also high­lighted the strength of the ad­vo­cacy from the Cross Party Group for Drug Pol­icy and Law Re­form, whose mem­bers in­clude Vic­to­rian MP Shar­man Stone, Leader of the Aus­tralian Greens Sen­a­tor Richard di Natale and my­self.

Af­ter work­ing on this for around two years, it re­ally is one of my ‘bucket list’ items that I was de­ter­mined to get through while I was serv­ing in this par­lia­ment.

Vic­to­ria and New South Wales are al­ready well-ad­vanced in their plans to pro­duce and trial medic­i­nal cannabis but other states in­clud­ing Queens­land have also shown strong in­ter­est. Once the Bill is passed, it is sug­gested that the States could have prod­uct avail­able to pa­tients within 12 months.

We need to view this as a vi­tal first step – hav­ing the abil­ity to cul­ti­vate and man­u­fac­ture a le­gal prod­uct in Aus­tralia is the “miss­ing piece” that we have been strug­gling with.

Let’s make sure we get the ba­sics right, things like crop se­cu­rity and avoid­ing the stock­pil­ing of prod­uct, and when that’s ticked off we can look at broad­en­ing the scheme and even ex­port­ing Aus­tralian medic­i­nal cannabis to ad­dress the global short­age of le­gal prod­uct.

In the mean­time, I’ll do ev­ery­thing in my power to help get this through as quickly as we can, so the states can al­low cul­ti­va­tion to start and pa­tients can have le­gal ac­cess as soon as pos­si­ble. I know from speak­ing to so many peo­ple that it will make a pro­found dif­fer­ence to their qual­ity of life.

Hon. War­ren Entsch MP

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