The Australian senate passed a measure that would allow concentrated marijuana extract oil to be imported into the country. However, it was never the senate’s job to pass the measure in the first place, and the Australian Government has now made it very clear that Australia will not be permitting the importation of the medicine.
The cannabis concentrate would have benefited terminally ill patients in Australia, and the Senate apparently felt like it was necessary to import the medicine. No matter where medical marijuana has been legalized in the world, there seems to be massive amounts of controversy surrounding it. Do you feel as though marijuana should be the controversial topic that it is?
An attempt to open up access to imported medicinal cannabis for dying patients has failed, prompting accusations the executive arm of the Government is defying the will of the Parliament.
In June a rainbow coalition of senators came together to defeat the Government and overturn restrictions on the importation of cannabis-based medicines for terminally ill patients.
But in an email obtained by Lateline, the Government subsequently warned importers they would be in breach of their permit and licence conditions if they followed the will of the Senate.
The email, sent by the Office of Drug Control in the Department of Health, notes the Senate vote “allows access to medicinal cannabis products under the Special Access Scheme Category A”.
But the email goes on to warn importers “it is a breach of your permit and licence conditions if you supply any imported medicinal cannabis product to a patient under SAS-A”.
Special Access Scheme for Category A enables medicines that are not on the register to be supplied to patients who are seriously ill and likely to die within months.
Greens Leader Richard Di Natale said it was reprehensive behaviour by the Government.
“They’ve threatened importers that they will have their licence removed if they follow the law and make this drug available to people with a terminal illness,” he told Lateline.
Senator David Leyonhjelm said the Government was being “cruel”.
“Effectively, what that letter is saying is ‘We don’t care what the Senate decided. We’re telling you, you will not sell your cannabis products to Category A patients or make those products available to them’.”
The Greens disallowance motion passed the Senate 40-30 on June 13 with the support of Labor, One Nation and Senators Leyonhjelm, Jacqui Lambie, Derryn Hinch and Lucy Gichuhi.
The Government imposed the original restrictions in October last year with the support of the Greens and Labor, fearing untested and unregulated medicines would put Australian patients at risk.
Its cautious approach to importation has also been backed by the Australian Medical Association and the Royal College of GPs.
A spokesman for Health Minister Greg Hunt said the email was not in defiance of the Senate, claiming the Greens and Labor were warned their motion would fail but they chose to mislead patients.
Labor’s health spokeswoman Catherine King told Lateline: “The Government should be doing everything it can to expand patient access to medicinal cannabis, not hiding behind technicalities.”
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