LEICHHARDT MP Warren Entsch will co-sponsor a cross-parliamentary Bill on medicinal cannabis on behalf of the Liberal Party when it is lodged with the House of Representatives next week.
At a press conference in Parliament today, Mr Entsch stood alongside representatives of all major political parties to announce proposed new laws that would stop people with terminal or chronic medical conditions having to do ‘backyard deals’ to access cannabis for medicinal purposes.
“It gives me a great deal of pride to be a part of this, and to co-sponsor this Bill on behalf of the Liberal Party,” Mr Entsch said today. “The proposed regulator will reflect world’s best practice in providing a framework for the production and distribution of medicinal cannabis.
“It gives Australia the opportunity to offer hope to so many sufferers of chronic pain and other conditions, where medicinal cannabis has proven to be the only remedy that gives them the relief they need.”
Mr Entsch congratulated Australian Greens Senator Richard di Natale for his “outstanding work and research” on the Bill. Senator di Natale co-sponsored the Bill when it was introduced to the Senate today alongside Senator Ian Macdonald (Liberal Party), Senator David Leyonhjelm (Liberal Democratic) and Senator Anne Urquhart (Labor).
In the House of Representatives, Mr Entsch will co-sponsor the Bill with George Christensen MP (National Party), Melissa Parke MP (Labor) and Adam Bandt MP (Australian Greens).
The proposed model draws on international frameworks from Canada, Holland and Israel and is similar to that which allows the cultivation of poppies in Tasmania for opiate medications such as morphine, pethidine and oxycodone. It would license consortiums to grow cannabis under very tightly regulated procedures, with no interaction with the illicit drug market. It is up to individual States and Territories as to whether they want to be involved.
Addressing media, Senator Di Natale said the genesis of the Bill had come about from recognition that people suffering severe medical conditions were already getting benefits from using cannabis but were unable to procure it legally through a controlled, regulated medical framework.
“Why do people who are sometimes in their last few months of life need to go to a backyard dealer and feel like a criminal to get access to medication?” he asked. “This allows Australia to establish an industry… with full control over the processing and dispensing of the drug under the authority of a doctor.”
Senator di Natale commended Mr Entsch for his work on this issue, describing him as “a very strong advocate”.
“This is not an issue that should be seen through the lens of politics, it’s an issue that belongs in the realm of the experts. This independent panel will be made up of people with expertise in pharmacology, medicine, horticulture, botany, the whole chain – from growing the product to making it available to patients.
“We have put our political differences aside and come together to give people access to this medication that we know has a proven benefit. The jury’s not out any more.”