Second Reading of MC Bill today
Today, the second reading is of the Govt Cannabis bill is expected to be heard.
The bill has stalled for several months over the topic of supplementary order papers, as the poor drafting of the bill left much unanswered. A key issue with the bill is it gives the MOH a black cheque to set up an MC Scheme.
One of these concessions will allow for local strains to enter the legal supply chain, providing industry advantages compared to Australia.
Another concession was around time frames, with regulations set to have a deadline for the scheme setup moved forward 6 months, improving the delivery of the scheme for patients. This partially resolves a critique from MCANZ that Labors 100 day promise could drag out to 1000 days.
"The Minister, with other issues competing for his time has left it in the hands of the MOH, which is chronically understaffed, due to this, I feel like we have wasted an entire year which could have been used for some planning"
"While these improvements are welcome, there is still much unanswered, and due to resourcing issues, it appears that the MOH has spent little time researching the regulations, leaving a great deal of uncertainty about the scheme"
"There are a lot of secondary issues that will likely need another round of legislation to sort, such as other Cannabinoids needing descheduling, particularly Cannabigerol and Cannabivarin which are just as safe as Cannabidiol" Says MCANZ Coordinator Shane Le Brun
Chairperson Dr Huhana Hickey frets about
"While it is fantastic that access will become easier, the issue of funding remains. Until it is addressed, people will suffer and face seeking illegal options, this is in need of urgent consideration, and has been omitted from discussion"
Further to this, the largest portion of patients will still face criminal penalities.
"Many patients will continue to be brandished as criminals, Without a 'medical necessity defense' Patients who are not terminal or palliative will continue to be targeted by police, who struggle with the tool of discretion. Fortunately the attitudes of some of the judges is proving to be far more compassionate that the coalition govt on this front." Says MCANZ Coordinator Shane Le Brun.
"As the govt has confirmed what upgrades are possible, the focus now switches to the regulations, we hope that parliament can operate in a much more collaborative way around the scheme so that the scheme 'sticks', otherwise it runs the risk of ending up in the dustbin like the PSA" Says MCANZ Coordinator Shane Le Brun.