Injustices in the Tasmanian medical cannabis system

honahlee is an educational space created to support a new perspective on cannabis in Australia. 

Reproduced with permission.

When it comes to medical cannabis, Tasmania is a place we should all be talking about. The Tassie government often talks about how excellent their medical cannabis framework is because it covers the cost of medical cannabis for patients. In theory, this is great. However, less than 20 patients have been approved for medical cannabis by the Tasmanian government since 2016.

We asked Rhys if he had any idea as to why this was happening and here’s what he said:

“I have no idea why this is happening. I think their process made sense initially. In the early days, in 2016 and 2017, when medicinal cannabis was brand new, every state and territory had their own restrictions on who could get access to what and which doctors could prescribe and the paperwork. And, that was completely unworkable. 

In 2018, Greg Hunt the federal health minister, through the Council Of Australian Governments (COAG) process, managed to get all of the States and Territories to agree to collaborate in order to streamline the patient access processes to make sure that access barriers were reduced.

All of the States and Territories agreed, except Tasmania. So you have a situation where patients, and in some cases quite seriously ill patients, who’ve been seen not just by a GP but also by a condition specialist. For example, as an epileptologist. 

And that specialist has submitted an application to the Tasmanian government saying, “As a specialist medical practitioner, that my patient would benefit from medical cannabis.” And, the Tasmanian government said no.”

This is a huge problem for Tasmanian patients and, in many ways, a human rights issue. The Tasmanian government can’t say that it’s to protect the community from harm because patients are going to clinics on the mainland and getting scripts. 

Rhys Cohen

This is an issue that needs more airtime. We need people to speak out. If you’re a Tassie local, please call or email your local member of parliament and let them know that you’re not going to stand for this kind of treatment.

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