Politics

The Senate Just Made It Easier To Access Medicinal Marijuana

A push from the Greens to allow terminally ill patients access to fast-tracked medicinal cannabis has passed the Senate today! This comes after independent senator Jacquie Lambie voted for the measure, and insisted she had accidentally missed an earlier vote on the proposal back in May.

Senator Richard Di Natale’s motion overturns the removal of medicinal marijuana from Category A of the Special Access Scheme (SAS), a decision made by former Health Minister Sussan Ley in 2016. Terminally ill patients will now be able to access the imported drug in a matter of hours, rather than the months required under the SAS’s more complicated and lengthy Category B.

The motion passed earlier today 40-30 thanks to One Nation (who reversed their initial vote against the Greens proposal). One Nation has historically supported medicinal marijuana and Pauline Hanson argued she was misled last time around.

Lambie reportedly wanted the vote to be taken again because a miscommunication led to her missing the vote in May. Although manager of government business in the Senate, Mitch Fifield, very reasonably pointed out this conflicted with Lambie’s earlier claims she had intentionally missed the vote because she had concerns about “unintended consequences“.

While this might outwardly seem like the Greens, Labor, One Nation and independents have all come together to pass good, sensible policy that will demonstrably help sick people, that’s just got to be because there’s something we’re not seeing?

Sure, Health Minister Greg Hunt still has some concerns. He claimed the changes could lead to inferior quality and poor oversight, but any medicinal cannabis imported under Category A is still subject to state and territory customs laws and would have to be brought in from countries where it’s legally distributed and assessed by health bodies at any rate.

Hunt’s other concern back in May was that the rules would hamper local businesses because patients could import the drug; an industry focus that doesn’t really hold much weight when you’re dealing with terminally ill children.

Seriously, what aren’t we seeing here? I guess something good happened in Parliament!

Feature image via WikiCommons.