Bill Seeking Cheaper Medical Cannabis In Queensland Defeated

The high cost of medicinal cannabis in Queensland
Image: Ryan Bushby, CC BY 2.5

Queensland patients have been dealt a blow after a bill seeking to ensure medicinal cannabis was more accessible and affordable was given the thumbs-down.

Among a number of issues, Public Health (Medicinal Cannabis Affordability) Amendment Act 2017 sought to provide amnesty to medicinal cannabis users and compassionate producers, and ensure affordability of whole plant materials from foreign manufacturers.

“While acknowledging that the Bill aims to address concerns raised by Queenslanders about the affordability of medicinal cannabis products, the committee considers that the Bill is flawed,” stated a report from the Health, Communities, Disability Services and Domestic and Family Violence Prevention Committee.

“In particular, the committee considers that legislation, as proposed in the Bill, is not the appropriate mechanism for achieving the stated outcome of requiring the Minister to negotiate with the Commonwealth to ensure that medicinal cannabis
products are affordable for patients.”

As we reported in March, Queensland Health Minister Cameron Dick and Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt pointed to each other to pick up the tab for the subsidisation or other forms of financial support for medical cannabis.

The problem concerning costs revolves around medicines having to be imported into Australia while the local cultivation and manufacturing sector gets up to speed – and there’s no guarantees that products grown and formulated locally won’t also have a hefty price tag.

In other recent medical cannabis news from Queensland,  a medicinal cannabis consumer and carer information session in the state this week has been fully booked.

Coordinated by Health Consumers Queensland, the free event on Thursday will be attended by government representatives; including Adjunct Professor John Skerritt, Adjunct Professor Tim Greenaway, Dr Sue Ballantyne and Gregory Perry, Director, Medicinal Cannabis Unit, Queensland Health.

Among the topics to be discussed in the morning are the 2016 medicinal cannabis framework, bulk importation of medicines and the regulatory system for cultivation and manufacture of medical cannabis.

In the afternoon, the focus will turn to patient access schemes, reviews of clinical evidence and development of guidelines for prescribing. That will be followed by a consumer led discussion revolving around what information patients and doctors need – and how this is best communicated.