Greens leader Richard Di Natale has won a month-long campaign in the Senate to let terminally ill patients personally import medicinal cannabis.
The Greens began pushing for changes last month and it subsequently emerged in Senate Estimates that just 150 people in Australia had been given approved access to medicinal cannabis products and just 25 doctors were authorised to prescribe the drug.
Di Natale’s changes to the law mean a doctor can prescribe medicinal cannabis to people with a terminal illness if it is clinically appropriate under Category A of the Special Access Scheme – as they can with other restricted drugs.
Late last year, when Therapeutic Goods Administration made cannabis a controlled, rather than prohibited drug for medical purposes, it also blocked doctors from prescribing some previously approved cannabis products to terminally ill patients without prior authorisation.
The Greens leader argued the change made it harder for dying people to access certain cannabis-based drugs.
The Coalition government opposed the Greens plan citing concerns about personal importation.
Health minister Greg Hunt called the proposal “dangerous” last month.
“It would have opened the way for personal importation through our airports of hashish and other products that are unsafe, unregulated and even deadly,” he said.
Under the change, terminally ill people who buy medicinal cannabis while overseas will be able to bring it back home.
The Greens motion passed today in a 40-30 vote, backed by Labor and several cross-bench senators including Jacqui Lambie, Derryn Hinch, and One Nation, and the Nick Xenophon Team blocs, which both voted against it which last month.
Labor’s health spokesperson, Catherine King, said the change will mean fewer barriers and more efficient access to medicinal cannabis.
“This is a win for dying Australians, who have been facing extensive barriers to access medicinal cannabis under the Turnbull Government,” she said.
The change to the law does not require the support of the government in the lower house.
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