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Liberals’ cannabis access scheme predictably bogged down in red tape

  • Not one application from specialists yet approved
  • Confusion reigns about how to access government’s chaotic scheme
  • Health Minister refused to consult, refused to listen

As predicted Tasmanians who rely on medicinal cannabis to treat a range of debilitating conditions are still unable to access the drug under the Hodgman Government’s cumbersome, red tape-heavy access scheme.

Shadow Attorney-General Lara Giddings said reports today that just three applications had been submitted to the Tasmanian Health Service – and none approved – since the scheme started five weeks ago showed that the government and Health Minister Michael Ferguson had caused confusion and delay around medicinal cannabis rather than provided a genuine solution.

”Mr Ferguson – in the lead up to the scheme – was persistently unable or unwilling to answer valid and serious questions about how effective his scheme would be and to say today that the scheme is working is laughable,” Ms Giddings said.

“Patients and health professionals are saying the scheme is awkward and unwieldy and confusing, with huge and unacceptable amounts of paperwork required to be submitted for each application.

“The government had ample warning that this situation would evolve but after three-and-a-half years of procrastinating, still pressed ahead with a scheme where there were major question marks over how many patients would be able to legally access cannabis and in what time frame.

“It requires a referral from a GP to a specialist and then mountains of paperwork and you have to question whether this scheme is ungainly by design. It is restrictive and is doing little to address the fact that there are hundreds of Tasmanians who are being forced to break the law to use medicinal cannabis every day to prevent epileptic fits, stop nausea, alleviate pain, stop spasms and prevent Parkinson’s shakes, just to name a few.

“A Labor Government would decriminalise the use and possession of cannabis for medicinal purposes including epilepsy, multiple sclerosis and cancer as well as the treatment of chronic pain.

“Labor would also allow for the licensed cultivation, manufacture and dispensing of medicinal cannabis in Tasmania. We would entrust GPs to prescribe medicinal cannabis also, in line with their patient needs and experiences.

“The confusion and serious questions of delays were issues the government should have addressed before the scheme was put in place on September 1.“