Criminal history checks on doctors and patients wanting to access medicinal marijuana should not be relevant regarding applications to access the drug, a parliamentary committee has argued.
This follows the delivery of a special report by the Parliamentary Health, Communities, Disability Services and the Domestic and Family Violence Prevention Committee, on a bill that would create a formal process for doctors in Queensland to prescribe medicinal cannabis to patients.
Within the report the committee has made two recommendations; first – to remove provisions allowing for criminal history checks.
And secondly a call to prioritize options to cultivate cannabis crops for medical use in Queensland.
“The committee recommends that the Queensland government, through the lead department – the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries – prioritise its investigation into options to obtain a licence to cultivate and manufacture medicinal cannabis in Queensland,” the report reads.
“The committee shares submitters’ concerns about the appropriateness of a practitioner’s and patient’s criminal history being a determining factor in the treatment of a patient’s medical condition.”
The Public Health (Medicinal Cannabis) Bill 2016, as it currently stands, allows the chief executive of Queensland health to request a criminal history check on medical practitioners and patients, as part of the decision on whether the individual is suitable to prescribe or receive the drug.
Spokesperson for Medicinal Cannabis Australia, Heath Kratzer, believes this is an unnecessary procedure, drawing into question the already readily available dangerous drugs on the market.
“People have been using cannabis as a medicine since the start of recorded history – it is only the past 80 years that this has been removed as an option,” Mr Kratzer said.
“Doctors already prescribe a wide range of drugs with more potential for abuse and death than cannabis medicine, if they can be trusted with these, why not cannabis?
“To deny a person medicine because they have a criminal record is a very serious issue; everyone has the right to be healthy and heal themselves.”
The bill would not allow patients to grow their own marijuana and would track the amount and type of marijuana dispensed to patients through pharmacies.
Under the committee’s proposal medicinal cannabis would be dispensed by approved pharmacists, with Queensland becoming home to one of the country’s largest cannabis plantations.
This would allow home-grown plants to be cheaper and quicker to access than those sourced overseas.
The proposed bill follows evidence to suggest that medicinal cannabis can help patients with multiple sclerosis, arthritis, chemotherapy-induced nausea, epilepsy, HIV and AIDS-related symptoms, and chronic pain.
According to the Queensland Network of Alcohol and other Drug Agencies, medicinal practitioners already require criminal history background checks as part of their registration process.
The committee has recommended the bill be passed.