Specialist Submissions to a review of Australia’s medicinal cannabis (MC) legislation reveal ‘an ill-conceived, directionless system in chaos and absolute meltdown’ a veteran advocate claims.
Lucy Haslam, the campaigner who, with her late son Dan, fought for and won legal changes around access to the drug in 2016 says the evaluation process – which began last November – is “already demonstrating beyond doubt what a disaster this country’s MC so-called ‘programme’ has been”.
Over two dozen Public Submissions have been received by a Secretariat set up to meet a statutory obligation to assess the legislation’s impact two years after it took effect.
Alongside Mrs Haslam’s own organisation United in Compassion, the Country Women’s Association and representatives from Australia’s nascent cannabis industry have also contributed – almost all ferociously critical of how medicinal cannabis has been administered and rolled out.
Joining them in their denunciation is the Greens’ Richard di Natale who has promised to introduce a Bill in the next Parliament to create a stand-alone Regulatory for medicinal cannabis. ‘
“Forcing patients to act like criminals is the crime, not using medicinal cannabis. We will fight until everyone can access medicinal cannabis when they need it,” Sen. Di Natale said.
Collectively the submissions paint a picture of dysfunctional management procedures, an absence of clear policy objectives and a backlog of around 200 cannabis cultivation and licence applications to serve a market of an estimated 2,500 ‘legal’ patients. Original estimates provided to the Government by consulting giant Deloitte in 2015 suggested 15-18 producers would be required to cater for 30,000 patients. There are currently believed to be well in excess of 100,000 sick Australians accessing the medicine illegally.
Commenting on the submissions Mrs Haslam said:
“We’ve been saying for years how this legislation has failed, now there’s proof plenty for all to see. United in Compassion has created its own lengthy Submission which goes into great detail about exactly what’s wrong with the current system and how it can never work properly. While it’s at least heartening that others agree with our arguments it often feels like I’m banging my head against a brick wall; I’m honestly at a loss as to what to do next. Even the recent OpEd in my regional paper the Northern Daily Leader doesn’t seem to have made any difference, it’s like the two main parties are deliberately putting their heads in the sand over this. “
The article Mrs Haslam refers to was published on 19th April and made a number of explosive revelations drawn from her five years working in advocacy. These include assertions that a family member of a senior Federal Minister is accessing illicit medicinal cannabis products, that doctors and police routinely ask for details of black market suppliers, that a Government-funded researcher has a major conflict of interests and that patient access to medicinal has been deliberately delayed by conducting needless clinical trials.