FARRER MP Sussan Ley has thrown her support behind the concept of farmers in the Murrumbidgee Irrigation Area growing medicinal cannabis, but ruled out supporting any changes to legislation regulating access to the drug.
Ms Ley was the federal health minister when the Therapeutic Goods Administration declared medicinal cannabis would be legal, and its usage regulated by the government.
At the same time though, a regulatory change was made which made it much more difficult for patients to access medicinal cannabis, a change made because cannabis products were not considered to be “established pharmaceuticals”.
The long-standing MP said she would encourage farmers to look into growing medicinal cannabis in her electorate, but added the current laws for patients to access it struck the right balance.
“This (medicinal cannabis farming) is rapidly becoming quite a busy space with lots of interest, but our horticulturalists are best practice and could certainly be part of this new industry,” she said.
Despite criticism from medicinal cannabis advocates that the product is too difficult for patients with life-threatening conditions to access, Ms Ley said the current model was still the most appropriate.
“The current laws strike the right balance,” she said.
“‘Medicinal’ cannabis is not the same product that is bought and sold today for recreational and often illegal uses.
“It is appropriate that it be prescribed by your doctor and not all doctors will prescribe it for all conditions.
“It is a medical treatment so your doctor needs to be at the centre of the prescribing, monitoring and treatment.”
Ms Ley also backed the TGA’s approval process for patients seeking access to medicinal cannabis, saying that problems were arising from difficulties in obtaining the drug once approval had been given.
She said TGA approval for patients was usually completed after a one or two day process.
“The problem has been that it was difficult to obtain once approval through the TGA had been given,” Ms Ley said.
She added she would be open to those suffering from non-life threatening conditions accessing the drug if its efficacy was proven and trialled.