HOBART - The Tasmanian Greens have tabled an amendment bill in State Parliament to provide temporary legal protection for people using medicinal cannabis. The bill also covers parents and carers who provide cannabis to their sick children for 12 months. Greens MP Cassy O'Connor told 936 ABC Hobart people currently faced significant penalties.
"We don't want to see the police go after and prosecute these people, but at the moment the law is really problematic," she said. "So this amendment bill is quite a straight forward piece of legislation and it simply seeks to provide a defence to people who can prove they're using cannabis for medicinal purposes."
Ms O'Connor said under the law now, someone using medicinal cannabis for encouraging appetite during chemotherapy or giving it to their children to control seizures faces up to 21 years in prison. "This amendment bills simply says if you are supplying medicinal cannabis to a child or you are in possession of cannabis that you can prove because you have been diagnosed by a medical specialist that you have a condition which may be helped by medicinal cannabis, that there's a defence in law if you end up in court."
She said the proposed amendment to the Misuse of Drugs Act covered controlled plant or controlled plant products, so it too account use of cannabis tincture or plant material.
Ms O'Connor said it would apply only for 12 months if passed, because the State Upper House was currently reviewing the situation, and reforms for medicinal cannabis nationally were under way. Ms O'Connor said a blind eye was being turned to parents and carers supplying cannabis for medical purposes . "These parent who are administering medicinal cannabis, they know at some risk legally and medically, but they also know having used this tincture the some benefits to their children. This medicine is saving children's lives at the moment," she said. "It takes a lot of guts ... to stand up and say, 'Yes I am breaking the law, because I love my daughter.'"
Ms O'Connor said there was a strong and informal network of medicinal cannabis supply and use, and the practice had tacit endorsement from some doctors, but a lack of quality control. "There's an overwhelming demand for a proper legal framework, a very clinical approach to this that allows people, some that are very, very sick to be safe under the law using medicinal cannabis."
ABC.au/Oct. 15, 2014
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