The federal government’s move to legalise the growth and consumption of medicinal cannabis has been cautiously welcomed by patients and caregivers, who express concerns over the scope of the legislation.
Minister for Health Susan Ley said that she was moved by the stories of terminally ill patients who found that medicinal cannabis helped ease their suffering.
“It is important therefore that we recognise those calls for help, that we put in place what we know will support a safe, legal and sustainable supply of a product,” she said.
“This Government is incredibly sympathetic to the suffering of those Australians with debilitating illnesses and we want to enable access to the most effective medical treatments available.”
“Allowing the cultivation of legal medicinal cannabis crops in Australia under strict controls strikes the right balance between patient access, community protection and our international obligations.”
Patients and carers have welcomed the move by the government, but are left with concerns that any legalisation will be too tightly regulated for the reforms to be effective.
Campaigner for medicinal cannabis legislation Lucy Haslam has expressed her cautious optimism in the government’s announcement, but hopes that it amounts to real action.
Ms Haslam became a campaigner for medicinal cannabis following her son’s diagnosis of terminal bowel cancer.
“I am pleased that politicians are ready to get on board but I hope and pray that the outcomes are in the best interests of the patients and that reform is more than political grandstanding,” she said.
Cancer patient John Greenwood has been waiting for these changes since his diagnosis, but is afraid that the regulations will be too prohibitive.
“I know this can help me, but from what I’ve heard, it’s going to be pretty strict with only specific treatments available, I don’t even know if I’ll be eligible” he said.
“I guess we’ll see where the changes go, and perhaps I’ll give it a go, but I’m not getting my hopes up just yet”