Pubdate: Mon, 06 Jun 2016
Source: Age, The (Australia)
Copyright: 2016 The Age Company Ltd
Author: Fiona Patten
Note: Fiona Patten is leader of the Australian Sex Party and a 
Victorian upper house member.


The Debate on Medicinal Cannabis Needs the Major Parties to Grow Up.

I think I am the only member of parliament in Australia to 
acknowledge my recreational use of cannabis. In fact, I have enjoyed 
the many blessings that cannabis can bestow for a lot of my adult 
life and have not lost my mind or become a serial killer.

Indeed, I became a politician and some have even said I would not 
have been elected without it!

Jokes aside, I'm declaring my usage or non-usage of cannabis, just so 
everyone knows where I'm coming from. This debate would be far more 
informative if every journalist, every politician and every 
commentator on the subject of cannabis law reform did the same, 
instead of hiding their drug use, drug abuse or their nonuse in the closet.

At the coming federal election, it is painfully clear now that none 
of the major parties want to see recreational cannabis legal in 
Australia. Neither Liberal, Labor nor the Greens have a policy that 
would in any way suggest they are looking at legalising Australia's 
most popular illicit drug in the near future.

However, over the past year, they have all fallen over themselves to 
legalise medicinal cannabis. Barnaby Joyce and Bruce Baird have 
joined forces and sat by the bedsides of ailing patients, assuring 
the TV cameras that they are pulling out all stops to have it 
legalised. It's a fake agenda.

None of them have any intention of making this happen soon and all 
the legislative promises are simply a smokescreen to hide the fact 
that they are basically old-style scotch and cola drinkers and they 
don't believe in hippy medicine for a moment . . . unless they think 
they can win votes with it in marginal seats. Then they'll say anything.

Even the Greens are backpedalling. At the end of March, the Greens in 
Victoria voted to not allow medical cannabis to be available to sick 
and suffering adults. That's right. They voted only to allow 
medicinal cannabis to be available to children with specific forms of 
epilepsy. Nothing else.

This all came about as part of the debate in the Victorian Parliament 
to set up Australia's first regulatory system for manufacturing, 
distribution and use of medicinal cannabis.

When I saw that the bill was so limited in its application as to be 
almost useless, I drafted an amendment. This was to make medicinal 
cannabis available to the same patient cohort that the Victorian Law 
Reform Commission (VLRC) had recommended be granted access.

It included patients suffering from severe pain, severe nausea, 
severe vomiting or severe wasting, resulting from cancer or HIV/AIDS; 
patients suffering from severe muscle spasms or severe pain from 
multiple sclerosis or epilepsy where other drugs have been proven 
ineffective or have intolerable side effects. And to patients who 
suffer from chronic pain and who two specialist doctors have 
certified that medicinal cannabis would provide better pain 
management than other options.

The Greens voted with the Labor and Liberal parties against my amendment.

Why would a party that tells us they are leading the debate in the 
Federal Parliament on medicinal cannabis decide to prohibit all 
adults in Victoria who would be assisted by medicinal cannabis the 
right to access it?

The reasoning they gave was that there was not enough cannabis to 
supply everyone who would want it. Really? That justification in 
itself means we should be redoubling our efforts. But it's not hard 
to grow. And if Victoria can grow medicinal cannabis to supply kids 
with epilepsy, they can grow it for all the adults who need it. If 
they can't there are hundreds of growers who can.

Marijuana (HEMP) Party candidate and long-time advocate for medicinal 
cannabis Andrew Kavasilas says there are tens of thousands of people 
in Australia accessing high-quality, medicinal cannabis right now. So 
someone's supplying it and it's not Monsanto or Chemist Warehouse.

So why are the Greens going soft on the issues of medicinal and 
recreational cannabis?

The party that said they would legalise medicinal cannabis in the 
Federal Parliament a year ago has done little to make it fly. All 
they've done is change the voting laws to get rid of minor parties 
like Sex and HEMP who are all about legalising medicinal and 
recreational cannabis. Instead of gaming the voting system they 
should have focused on cannabis, marriage equality and getting an 
emissions trading scheme in place.
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MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom