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Patients express concern on medicinal cannabis amendment

MCANZ has been inundated with concern over the artificially narrow definition of palliation in the SOPs put forward late Monday on the Medical Cannabis Bill. There are 2 key phrases that narrow the definition to exclude those who may be considered palliative in Generic terms. The bill defines palliation as such

"a person requires palliation if, in the opinion of a medical practitioner or nurse practitioner, the person has an advanced progressive life-limiting condition and is nearing the end of their life."

MCANZ understands this terminology is a satisfactory extension for those with Progressive Neurological conditions, such as Primary Progressive Multiple Sclerosis, Motor Neuron Disease, Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis etc. Ironically these types of conditions are often significantly benefited by the Neuroprotective, antispasmodic effects of Cannabis, well before patients are nearing the end.

Other conditions, however, are probably not covered, Dravet Syndrome, which results in 10-20% of patients not making it to adulthood due to the severity of their condition for example. For those that do make it to adulthood, the condition is generally not progressive, and while the condition is debilitating it would be difficult to declare that such patients are nearing the end of life.

Grace Yeats is currently considered palliative under the current definition, yet would be excluded under the amendments to the Medical Cannabis bill, her condition, necrosis of the Basal Ganglia following an infection, is not progressive. Her condition results in loss of muscle control which has been treated with extreme treatments such as a Spinal Baclofen Pump, Sativex Mouthspray, regular Botox injections, and scheduled surgeries to realign the spine.

Her condition is not terminal, and short of a mishap on the operating table, she will live a long life. Grace fails to qualify on 2 grounds, she is neither nearing the end of her life nor is her condition progressive.

"We ask that the Coalition urgently reconsider the scope of the definition, removing one or both of those requirements, to truly show the compassion that has been promised"
"MCANZ has argued at select committee for a definition of 'severe or debilitating' and the majority of submitters asked for such with various wordings, a simple tweak could satisfy a key demand of the patient community" Says MCANZ Coordinator Shane Le Brun
MCANZ would like to see the definition truncated to the following
"a person requires palliation if, in the opinion of a medical practitioner or nurse practitioner, the person has an advanced life-limiting condition"
"This would prove a huge win for reason and compassion and is aligned with the promise of making drug laws a health issue, not a criminal one." Says MCANZ Coordinator Shane Le Brun.


Dr Huhana Hickey, has Relapse Remitting Multiple Sclerosis, a cruelly slow disease. Huhana could be a considered a "super responder" to Medical Cannabis receiving excellent results at an eye-watering cost. Her condition has a certainty to its end, but by no means is she nearing the end of her life, a simple tweak of the definition would protect her and many others who benefit from Medical Cannabis.

"I am by no means nearing the end of days, while my symptoms are severe I am lively enough to continue working despite the pain. My condition is such that my Medical Cannabis use prevents me from qualifying under the narrow criteria proposed. Its disheartening that I will still have no options other than shelling out tens of thousands of dollars for the next few years"
Says MCANZ Chairwoman Dr Huhana Hickey.

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