Australian pollies call for medical cannabis amnesty
When South Australian medicinal cannabis crusader had her home raided on January 4, 2017, it set off a chain of events few would have predicted. At the time, Ms Hallam, 44, was supplying cannabis oil at no cost to terminally patients. Police took all her products and equipment.
For two years, Jenny Hallam had been trying to meet with SA’s health minister to start the ball rolling for legalising medical cannabis in SA. Ms Hallam has also been working with Greens MP Tammy Franks for the past 2 years to have medical cannabis legalised in SA. But, with no result. Ms Hallam said they keep being referred to the drug and alcohol minister when it should be dealt with by the state health minister.
Why supply medical cannabis illegally?
Ms Hallam first started using cannabis to treat her own pain condition. Ms Hallam had been on morphine for 15 years with the condition fibromyalgia and it was negatively affecting her health. She says taking medicinal cannabis saved her life.
When she found how well it worked, she decided to share it with others who needed it as a matter of urgency. She had people ringing, begging her to help them. While she knew she was taking a risk, she could not say no when she knew medicinal cannabis could help their medical conditions. At the time of being raided Ms Hallam was producing cannabis oil for about 100 terminally ill people.
Australian medical cannabis law
Australia’s medical cannabis laws are confusing. Early 2015, the Australian Federal Government amended the Narcotic Drugs Act 1967 to allow legal marijuana growing and medical use. This means that now people with certain types of terminal illnesses can access medical marijuana with a prescription without fear of legal prosecution. It is still illegal to use or grow pot in Australia for any other reason, and without a licence.
While this is federal legislation every state of Australia has its own legislation. The federal legislation simply paved the way for the states to take up the opportunity to amend their own laws. Victoria and New South Wales have been quick to act to update their cannabis laws, and investigate economic and commercial opportunities. But, South Australia and Queensland are lagging behind and it is still illegal.
Aussie pollies call for cannabis amnesty
A huge outcry across Australia has been heard since Ms Hallam’s Hillier property was raided. Greens MP Ms Franks has called for an amnesty in SA while the state catches up with legislation. Already Victoria and New South Wales have medical cannabis legislation in place, with legislation introduced for consideration in Queensland Parliament in 2016. Though it is has still not passed into law.
The SA Premier’s office has not been receptive, releasing a statement saying this was a matter for the courts. It further stated the SA State Government was open to establishing a medical cannabis industry, but that it was up to the police to enforce cannabis laws.
According to SA Innovation Minister, Kyam Maher, specialist doctors have been able to prescribe medical cannabis since the end of 2016. However, the cannabis must be dispensed by a chemist.
Mr Maher has said he was unaware Ms Hallam had been trying to meet government members to discuss legalising medical cannabis. He said a meeting would be set up to discuss the industry with her further.
Queensland One Nation Senator, Pauline Hanson has called on the Australian Prime Minister to grant an amnesty for those supplying medical cannabis to terminally ill patients. She has said an amnesty was needed until the states sorted their laws out. And, Queensland Member of Parliament for the Liberal National Party in Buderim, Steve Dickson has defected to One Nation. He said this was based on his party’s (LNP) stance on medical marijuana.
Mr Dickson said his failure to achieve access to medical cannabis for terminally ill patients was the main reason for jumping ship. Queensland’s new laws come into effect later in 2017 but in the meantime people feared being prosecuted if they use medical cannabis. Mr Dickson said he has talked to many families with sick and dying children who now no longer have access to medical cannabis since the raid on Ms Hallam’s property.
Mr Dickson said he had lobbied the state and federal governments about the amnesty but to no avail. He even put a call into the Prime Minister’s office but has not heard back. He left the LNP and joined Ms Hanson’s One Nation Party because she was the only one willing to take up the issues. Mr Dickson had been a LNP MP in Queensland for 10 years when he resigned to join One Nation.
Medical cannabis good for SA’s economy
With the economic problems facing SA, you would think the SA government would have more interest in investigating the medical cannabis industry further. Not only would it solve the legalities of supplying sick people in need of its treatment, but it creates jobs and economic growth for a dying state. With the Holden factory closing in the northern suburbs later in 2017, this spells economic disaster for the area with the loss of jobs and many small businesses will suffer.
Ms Hallam has said the government needs to understand that the people who use medical cannabis do so to save their lives. They do not take it to get high. Ms Hallam’s products have no psychotic effects at all. Only therapeutic effects.
SA’s medical cannabis crusader teams up with Victorian government
In a few short weeks, from having her home raided by SA police for supplying medical cannabis and the fallout across the country, Ms Hallam is working with Cannabis Life. They are working together to create a registry of interest from people wanting to use cannabis oil as a treatment for their illness.
Ms Hallam said the Victorian government wants to see demonstrable evidence of a demand for her products and doctors willing to prescribe it. It is legal to prescribe and take cannabis oil in Victoria after it changed its legislation in 2016.
So, in February 2017, there is no medical cannabis oil amnesty in states still trying to catch up with federal laws. Opposition ALP leader Bill Shorten called on the government for a federal amnesty to allow patients to access cannabis products until the national framework is set up. The LNP Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull recently called on Australians to reject cannabis oil from illegal manufacturers.