Government Defeated: Pot Now Available To The Seriously Ill And Dying

13th June 2017: Huge blow to Health Minister & TGA after Greens Senate Motion re-introduced and then carried

Goal man

Campaigners and advocacy groups were celebrating today after the Government suffered a major defeat in its efforts to stop terminally ill patients from accessing medical pot.

A Motion to Disallow changes made to the Therapeutic Goods Administration’s Special Access Scheme Category A – a pathway designed to enable critically sick individuals to quickly obtain medicines normally unavailable in Australia – was carried after Senator Jacqui Lambie apologised to the Upper House for her absence on 11th May when the matter was first debated. Cannabis – and only cannabis – was specifically excluded from the Category in a sneaky regulatory tweak made by former Health Minister Sussan Ley using Statutory Instrument in November 2016.

An attempt to disallow the changes was brought by Richard Di Natale of the Greens a month ago but was thwarted after Pauline Hanson’s One Nation and the Nick Xenophon Team voted with the Government in a nail-biting Division which was tied when Labor voted with Di Natale. Tasmanian Senator Jacqui Lambie was absent from the vote, which would have succeeded with her support. So concerned was the Government at the time, the TGA’s Head of the Health Products Regulation Group John Skerrit was dispatched to pressure cross-benchers, including One Nation to side with the LNP. A letter from Health Minister Greg Hunt (addressed to Nick Xenophon but believed to be the same as those sent to all other small parties) is here. Full of half-truths and obfuscations it shows an inept politician caught on the back foot, prepared to go to any lengths to prevent – at whatever cost – cannabis actually reaching the hands of those needing it most, regardless of their suffering, regardless of public will.

Until just days ago most people thought the matter had ended there until Di Natale and Lambie decided to invoke a clause in the Senate rules that enabled the vote to be taken again – and – after three Divisions of the Chamber – this time the Motion was carried.  It happened though only after Government first tried to block the move by quoting Lambie from an article in BuzzFeed after the 11th May Vote. It suggested she had not been absent by ‘misadventure’ but had done so in order to abstain. The Chamber divided and leave was then granted for the Motion to proceed when Labor and One Nation said they accepted Sen. Lambie’s apology. By then it was apparent the game was up – Lambie and One Nation working with Labor to ensure a Government drubbing.  Any flies on the wall in Greg Hunt’s office are now guaranteed a rare, if expletive-filled treat.

After the 11th May vote Hanson had posted on her Facebook page she had originally toed the Government line because she believed Motion would somehow open the floodgates to ‘suitcases full’ of ‘dangerous’ and ‘unregulated marijuana’ entering the country – the story Hunt and his panjandrums were telling.

Reaction from the medical cannabis campaign and advocacy community was swift and harsh, indicating she had lost a voting block she had been solicitously courting for months. Her about turn on the matter – without which the Disallowance Motion would not have been debated again – may go some way in redeeming her in the eyes of those she had previously betrayed.

Today’s vote is a huge win for those fighting for access to a potentially life-saving drug and others whose final days could be eased were it available. Doctors are now in a position to prescribe such medication without undue interference and delay by the TGA using its other route known as Category B. Only 66 patients have thus far been given cannabis products using this pathway in a process many have long argued is nearly impossible for doctors to use.

Not only is it a win for patients however, it is a huge kick where it hurts for Ministers and their officials who will now doubtless retreat to lick their wounds while they try to figure out how to respond.

With their close ties with conservative elements in the medical profession – notably the AMA and many of the Royal Colleges – one shouldn’t be surprised to find yet more pressure being put on GPs and others to steer well clear of weed, despite this sudden – and unexpected – slight relaxation of  hitherto appalling and inhumane rules.

13 thoughts on “Government Defeated: Pot Now Available To The Seriously Ill And Dying”

    1. The evidence in so many forms has been always been available.
      VESTED INTERESTS are applying their influence for selfish gain at the expense of all of us.
      Harking back to the fledgling Dupont and the American Cotton Industry trying to eliminate the Hemp Industry as the major makers of . The word “canvas” a derivative from cannabis.
      Now the biggest influence “Big Pharma” who drive the development of medicines around exclusive patents and pricing around – not what a drug costs to produce but – what they think people will dig into their pockets and pay.

      PLEASE DO NOT SIT BACK WAITING for common sense to prevail and expecting these money grubbing “we do it for our shareholders” corporations to pass on exerting what ever influence they can to stop you growing a common herb in your garden and using it for personal health remedies at home!

  1. I wrote after hearing Greg Hunt say they will find a way to stop access to cannabis after the vote today that I hope he and his cronies find themselves in need of that oil someday… Cold bastards…

  2. This is very good news. Soon I hope to actually use canibbis in the treatment of my chronic back/arthritis pain and type two diabetes. It sickens me that Australian politicians remain steadfast in their ignorance of canibbis’s therapitic affects on a list of very debilitating diseases/conditions, when there’s more then ample scientific evidence to the contrary.

    1. We may have to wait years for relief from arthritis pain etc. So far, they are (reluctantly) discussing cannabis use in terminal illness only. Not sure I’ll get any help in my lifetime!

      And please – don’t call it pot! This is an important, valuable medicine, so call it by its proper name.

  3. In an ABC News report Greg Hunt said he felt the Senate had ‘acted in defiance of the advice of the TGA…(and others)’ and that ‘we (the Government) cannot accept this,’ adding he had asked the TGA for advice, presumably on how to reverse the decision.

    This must be some of the most dangerous talk to come out of a Minister’s mouth. Ever.

    Defiance? What, like a naughty kid? Since when did elected representatives have to follow the orders of pen-pushers and /or non-Governmental bodies? Since when did the regulatory tail wag the policy dog?

    As for ‘we can’t accept this’ – what he is ACTUALLY saying is that the entire (democratic) parliamentary process is something he holds in contempt.

    This is authoritarianism at its most unashamed and bare-faced. Should Hunt be successful in scuppering the wishes of the Senate it’s a massive nail in the coffin not just of patients’ rights but of democracy itself, clearly at risk at the hands of this Government. And it goes well beyond ‘merely’ cannabis.

  4. No one has ever died of a Cannabis overdose. This is a sacred plant. Cancer cells are already in all of us and so there”s generally something that happens in the body to activate them. Why are young children getting cancer? Prescription drugs are lethal to the body with so many side effects and yet government bodies and pharmaceutical companies register and fill prescriptions every single minute of the day. These drugs and their side effects destroy cellular health.
    Medicinal Cannabis should be dispensed to those that need the treatment. The body understands the oil. Why is the government not allowing this, is it because they won’t make any money from it. Make Medicinal Cannabis legal.

  5. Minister Hunt and all the other politicians who attempt to block the passage of this bill, forget who and why they are voted into parliament. They are not there for their own benefit. They are voted into power by the people for the people, not the other way round.
    The politicians who think they are gods, need a reality check. Pharmaceutical drugs are not the answer. They have so many debilitating side effects. Peripheral neuropathy, gut upsets, fat redistribution, diarrhea to mention just a few and the industry and medical profession think it’s ok to ignore them all. Pharmaceutical pain killers for arthritis is not the answer which have long term side effects and the drug industry are ok with their moneymaking arrogance when they ignore these problems.

    It’s way past the time when our lazy arrogant politicians like Minister Hunt need to do the job they were elected to do.

    So approve medical marijuana and get over your pandering to the medical profession and drug cartel.

  6. I am in chronic pain with numerous illnesses and one is life threatening. I would love to get relief from my pain with this natural product but cannot as I still drive my car. I have spoken to the traffic cops about this & they said they can still stop us even though what we are taking does not have THC in it. Until the traffic rules are changed people will not be allowed to drive. I could not be a stay at home person I need to do charity work & paint with a group so need to use my car. Sad state of affairs.

  7. I sincerely hope that the Australian Government doesn’t renege on Medical Cannabis being made available to terminally ill people.

    It’s long overdue for all politicians to stop their melodramatic arguing about Medical Cannabis, especially the so called Minister for Health.
    There has been hundreds of independent studies into Medical Cannabis that have proven the positive properties of Medical Cannabis for a incredible list of illnesses.
    These comprehensive reports are readily available to everyone who cares to access them on the Internet. So it wouldn’t take an excessive length of time for ALL politicians to read these results that would stop their time wasting arguments about Medical Cannabis.

  8. Your sickness, your medicine choice. It should not be harder than that. I will never give up my choice.

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