Tuesday, 30 November 2021
[by video link] Since 2016, One Nation has been campaigning for natural, Australian, whole-plant medical cannabis to be made available through chemists—under doctor's prescription—on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme. So far in 2021 the TGA has approved 184,000 applications for medicinal cannabis, an exponential increase, with Queensland leading the way. The world hasn't ended—nothing harmful has happened—and people are being healed. The first cannabis product has now been approved for supply under the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme for Dravet syndrome. It's an extract, not whole-plant, but at least it's a natural product.
One Nation worked with the government to introduce new cannabis licensing for export producers in 2019. That's been largely responsible for the increase. At the time, the cannabis community did not understand why One Nation was celebrating regulation changes that provide companies with the certainty needed to enter export markets. We're now seeing the benefit of One Nation's advocacy. Business expanded production for export and supplied some of that product into the Australian prescription market. This caused prices to fall and increased the range of available options, quality and availability.
In a Senate speech in 2019, I quoted a Roy Morgan survey that found medical cannabis could help one million Australians every year. That's looking accurate. Most of the growth in medical cannabis has come from pain relief, just one of the many uses for medical cannabis. In 2019, 1,000 Australians died of overdoses from prescription painkillers. No-one has ever died from prescription medical cannabis. There are more lives to be saved here, by moving patients from fatal narcotic drugs to medical cannabis. I urge the government to widen the approved use of medical cannabis to include epilepsy and chemotherapy support among others. Our people, our community and our nation deserve improved access to medical cannabis.