Over the three days of 30th March to 1st April 2015 members of the Senate’s Legal and Constitutional Affairs Legislation Committee sat down to hear expert evidence as part of its Public Inquiry into the Regulation of Medicinal Cannabis Bill 2014 moved with cross-party support by the Upper House t he previous November.
The specially invited witnesses, all considered highly knowledgeable in the area, were each grilled by the day’s triumvirate, sometimes in pairs or trios sometimes alone.
The proceedings took place in Canberra, Brisbane & Sydney and – together with the Public Submissions analysed in these pages – were intended to give the Committee greater insight into the matter at hand, the proposition that a new single-purpose Regulator should be created to oversee all aspects of the medicinal herb, from cultivation through to prescription.
An extremely fair cross-section of individuals were called, representing patients and their carers, some in the medical profession, academic researchers, businesses people and civil servants whose jobs were likely to be affected by legislative or regulatory changes.
The collective evidence led the Committee to recommend – subject to other suggestions – that the Bill be enacted, but this did not come to pass.
Even after passage of its replacement legislation – the Narcotic Drugs Amendment Act 2016 – arguments such as those seen at the Hearings continue. Medicinal cannabis campaigners still have an uphill battle with what might be termed the Medical/Pharmaceutical and Regulatory ‘Establishment’ before the drug re-enters the therapeutic armoury and there are doubtless debates left to have.
The points and arguments raised over the three-day period nonetheless give an excellent flavour of who believes exactly what and why.
All positions have validity whether you agree or not; only by understanding all points of view and the reasons for having them can the conversation progress.
The proceedings were recorded by Hansard; their reports are a verbatim account of each day. All are worth reading in full and can be downloaded at the below links:
We have however summarised briefly each in turn on the adjacent pages (see navigation on right).
This is no substitute for the actual reports though which paint a superb picture of what the Big Arguments are and those that are making them.