The Government of the Australian state of New South Wales is facing allegations of purposely delaying medical cannabis applications made by doctors wanting to prescribe medicines for their patients.
New South Wales Shadow Health Minister Walt Secord along with Opposition Leader in the NSW Legislative Council, Adam Searle, claim the Berejiklian Government is essentially paying lip service with regard to medical cannabis support.
In the entire state, there are less than 50 patients receiving prescription medicines they say – out of a population of 7.48 million. That works out to less than .0009 percent of the state’s population.
The pair of politicians have discussed the problems with advocates as well as doctors who say the process in New South Wales is slow and cumbersome. It’s little wonder then that many patients continue to source supplies from illegitimate channels; facing risks associated with quality, consistency and prosecution.
“Access to a safe and secure medical supply of medicinal cannabis is about sympathy and compassion,” said Mr. Searle
Mr. Secord said that as Health Minister in a Labor-led government, he would like to oversee a more compassionate scheme. Realising that goal may be some way off as the next New South Wales state election is scheduled to be held in March 2019. Meanwhile, NSW patients will continue to suffer.
Medical Cannabis Access A National Problem
Whether the Berejiklian Government is purposely stymieing access is a matter for debate. New South Wales isn’t the only state with incredibly low numbers of patients legally able to access cannabis medications; nor alone in having convoluted processes – it’s a problem in every state and territory across Australia. According to a recent ABC report, only 500 Australians are now using medicinal cannabis legally.
While the Federal Government flagged that access wouldn’t happen overnight when related legislation was passed nearly two years ago, that so few have been able to at this point – nearly 2 years later – is of great concern to many.
It should also be of concern to the slew of entrants into the local medical cannabis sector – it’s getting to a point where there is one ASX-listed company literally per couple of dozen patients – and that doesn’t include the unlisted companies. However, some of those firms would have probably relaxed a little since the Federal Government announced it would permit medical cannabis exports.
Still, there’s no doubt the local need is huge and legal supply is barely functioning, meaning many Australians continue to suffer or risk prosecution while watching patients with the same conditions in other countries accessing the medications they need.
According to the ABC report referenced above, Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt says he has written to his state and territory counterparts on the issue of simplifying processes.
Trivia: According to the Marijuana Policy Project, there are more than 2.35 million state-legal medical cannabis patients in the United States – or .7% of the entire population . If the same percentage was applied in Australia, it would mean 169,000 registered patients here – 338 times the current number.