Queensland passed laws to allow patients of all ages to have access to medical marijuana. These new laws will take effect from March this year. Does this help those in need of medical cannabis for epilepsy? There are concerns that it may not.
Law passed in Queensland to allow access to medical cannabis for epilepsy to all ages – if they can get it
ABC News reports on the law’s implementation and how it is affecting patients. GPs, as well as some specialists such as oncologists, palliative care specialists, and pediatric neurologists, will be able to prescribe medical marijuana from as early as March this year.
Doctors will still have to apply for permission to prescribe medical marijuana from Queensland Health. Public Health Bill 2016 (Medicinal Cannabis) lists the conditions for which cannabis can be prescribed and gives legitimate access to patients of all ages with qualifying conditions.
According to Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk, the passing of the bill was a definite milestone for medical marijuana activists. Heath Minister Cameron Dick said that Queensland leads the way to the provision of a path to safe, controlled access to medical cannabis treatment for those who need it most.
Steve Dixon, LNP spokesman, said it was the stories of children suffering as many as 500 seizures a day who saw a drastic reduction in seizures when treated with medical cannabis for epilepsy that convinced him that change was needed. The bill is up for review after two years.
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Medical cannabis for epilepsy – access and cost concerns
Despite this seemingly good news, Steve Peek, father of a dying eight-year-old girl who uses medical cannabis for epilepsy says the law is great but doesn’t solve his problem. He explains that legal medical cannabis is very expensive and is not covered by the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS).
He says there is no alternative for his daughter Suli, she needs it and can’t stop using it. He is already dosing her with CBD oil despite knowing it is illegal, and he can’t have her hospitalized at any time because she would stop getting her CBD oil.
Laws of no use if there is no supply
Rebecca Brisdon, a cannabis oil activist, says the law doesn’t go far enough. Civil libertarians would like the government to establish a local supply of medical marijuana as all products must be imported and the demand is high, making it very difficult get.
Michael Cope, a spokesperson for Queensland Council for Civil Liberties, said if supplies can’t be secured, favorable legislation is useless. As far as he understands, medical marijuana for epilepsy is very difficult to get hold of because it is only produced in a few countries. This pushes up prices, making affordability an issue.
Biggest grower leaves because of laws
Meanwhile, the biggest producer of medical cannabis in Australia, backed by the University of Sydney and financial investor Barry Lambert, whose granddaughter suffers epilepsy, has packed up and left for Kentucky where the legal set-up is much more favorable.
This is very disappointing, as Australia was all set to produce medical cannabis for epilepsy, but the legal system messed up the country’s chances of producing its own low-THC CBD oil.