Northern Territory

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This is not the place to be if your life or that of a family member depends on medicinal cannabis.

 

In fact it’s so bad, documentary film-maker Helen Kapalos put an email campaign on the website accompanying her film about medical cannabis – A Life Of Its Own – so disgruntled activists and others could send messages straight through to the Territory’s then Health Minister Johan Wessel Elferink who left office in August 2016 after a change in government. It is not known whether such messages are delivered to his replacement Natasha Fyles, who is also Attorney General.

 

Where the drug generally is concerned, an ‘at a glance’ sketch of States and Territory laws can be found on the National Cannabis Prevention and Information Centre (NCPIC) website where the NT entry says:

 

‘Since 1996, adults found in possession of up to 50 grams of marijuana, one gram of hash oil, 10 grams of hash or cannabis seed, or two non-hydroponic plants can be fined $200 with 28 days to expiate rather than face a criminal charge, the fine payable to the State and juveniles sent to assessment.’

 

The law governing (illicit) cannabis use in the Territory is the Misuse of Drugs Act 1990, strengthened by the Justice Legislation Amendment (Drug Offences) Act 2016 which focused most on commercial production.

 

But on the medical side of things landscape is bleak – the Territory’s Legislative Assembly appears to have taken no action and if anything has adopted a negative stance with former Police Minister Peter Chandler last January saying no leniency would be shown to those using the drug even for medical use.

 

Other that that, the Assembly’s website seems to have not a word on the matter.

 

Licences to grow opium poppies in the Territory for pharmaceutical use are, on the other hand, available thanks to its Poppy Regulation Act of 2014 which led to a first harvest in October the following year.

 

The situation relating to cannabis would in all likelihood been avoided had the Commonwealth created a single, national body with blanket responsibility for all things medicinal cannabis, from production through to registration of products and access by doctors and patients as proposed by the Senate’s Regulator of Medicinal Cannabis Bill of 2014.

 

Instead, replacement legislation meant that responsibility wold be shared between the Federal Department of Health via its twin organisations the Therapeutic Goods Administration and Office of Drug Control AND States & Territories.

 

Which means in the case of the Northern Territory patients are even more scuppered than in the rest of the country.