With not even a media release from the health minister to mark the occasion, the government slid through a quiet change to medicinal cannabis access here in Tasmania on July 1 2021.
Quiet perhaps because the rest of the country, every other state and territory, made the same changes three years ago!
As advocates for medicinal cannabis patients we have been lobbying for change for seven years. Offering our time to politicians and their advisors so that they might understand the needs of patients using or wanting to use medicinal cannabis in Tasmania.
Did they listen? Evidently not.
Now, I am sure if you were to ask the minister for health (or either of his two very recent predecessors) he would tell you they have listened to expert advice and are now acting in the best interests of patients. Advice that they have been tardy in following. For over the last four years just some twenty patients were legally accessing medicinal cannabis in this state. While hundreds perhaps thousands more patients were breaking the law to access a medicine they find effective for their conditions.
I think you would go a long way to find a physician (or even a decent politician) would agree that having patients breaking the law is ideal. It isn’t.
So what has occurred over the last seven years?
Patients have become self sufficient – who could blame them considering the lack of responsibility from the government?
Many of them source their cannabis medicine from local suppliers, from compassionate carers, from overseas and yes, even from ‘legal’ mainland clinics when technically that was restricted here also. And then, some of us choose to home grow.
We’ve always suggested that a tiered system be adopted and now whether government likes it or not that is what is happening.
There should be pharmaceutical grade cannabis medicines, there should be herbalist/grow ops and there should be personal home grow rights.
For the last seven years we have been growing and extracting medicine for Jeremy. We applied three times to the Controlled Access Scheme. Not at any time has government stepped in to assist our severely disabled son. Correspondence and meetings have been patronising and those charged as responsible for the health of Tasmanians have been indifferent to his situation.
Jeremy isn’t alone, there are many patients that have begged for help and been let down by the Gutwein Liberal Government.
The recent changes by the government will potentially leave patients unable to afford, and at times without consistent supply of medicinal cannabis. If government had taken the time to see what is working and what isn’t working on the mainland over the last few years they would know this.
So what would I say to them?You have basically slowly tortured our son and entire family over seven years. We have stepped up, risked our very freedom to provide him with the medicine that is safe and effective for him while you sat on the sidelines and sniped at us to do the right thing – what was the right thing?It has been hard, on us all. It has sometimes been terrifying but also empowering. We did it, we love him and care enough to risk all we have.So excuse us if we treat your announcement with the same disdain that you have treated us.While we are able to, we will continue to care for Jeremy. We’ve kept him alive this long without your help. Thanks, but no thanks.