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Petitioning Malcolm Turnbull

Malcolm Turnbull support the Greens Bill for Category A access to cannabis

Please sign our petition requesting the Turnbull Government VOTE YES on the Greens Bill to ensure that patients with life threatening conditions have Category A access to the cannabis products that have already been imported into Australia and to the Australian made cannabis products when they become available.

Update 19 October 2017 - The Senate passed the Greens Bill to secure Category A access to imported cannabis products and to Australian made cannabis products when they become available.  The Turnbull Government have said they will not support the Bill in the House of Representatives.

Update 13 Sept 2017 - Senator Di Natale introduced the Medicinal Cannabis Legislation Amendment (Securing Patient Access) Bill 2017 to ensure patients with life threatening conditions have secure access to cannabis under Category A. The Greens Bill will amend the Customs Act to allow Category A access to the imported cannabis products that are already in the country. The Bill also amends the Narcotic Drugs Act to allow patient access to locally cultivated and manufactured cannabis products under Category A when they become available.

UPDATE 24 June 2017 - As the Government has defied the will of the Senate, the Greens have announced plans to introduce an amending Bill into the Senate to amend the Customs Act to ensure access to cannabis products that have already been imported into the country under Category.  The Bill will also amend the Narcotics Drug Act to allow Category A access to Australian grown and manufactured cannabis products because the Bill to establish an Australian cannabis industry that passed through the Australian Parliament last February restricted patient access to local products to clinical trials, Category B, authorised prescribers and registered products and NOT Category A. Unlike the Senate motion, this amending Bill needs to pass through the House of Reps where it will need the support of the Turnbull government.

UPDATE 13 June 2017 - The Senate supported Senator Di Natale's motion to overturn the Government's unfair changes to legislation that removed access to all cannabis medicines under Category A in November 2016.  Patients with life threatening conditions can now access Schedule 4 and 8 cannabis medicines through Category.  

UPDATE 11 May 2017 - SENATE VOTE ON CATEGORY A
Senator Di Natale's motion to block the Government from amending legislation to remove Category A access did not get through the Senate. The vote was a tie 32-32 but needed 1 more vote to block the Government from removing Category A access to all cannabis medicines. Labor, Derryn Hinch and David Leyonhjelm supported the Greens motion to reinstate Category A access. One Nation and the Xenophon Team sided with the Government and voted against the the Green's motion for patients to have access to cannabis under Category A.

The Government's discriminatory amendments only applies to cannabis medicines. All other Schedule 4 and 8 unapproved/unregistered medicines can still be accessed through Category A without a doctor needing TGA approval. Instead of patients having quicker access, patients with life threatening conditions need to go through Category B which means their doctor needs TGA and in most cases also state approval.

UPDATE - Senate Vote deferred to 11 May 2017
UPDATE - Category A rights to go to a vote in the Senate on 23 March 2017
UPDATE - Senator Di Natale has put forward a motion to block the Government's unfair and discriminatory changes to the Therapeutic Goods Regulations that will remove access to all cannabis medicines under Category A of the SAS.

Background
The media coverage that the Federal Government legalised or decriminalised cannabis across Australia in February 2016 and further claims that from 1 November 2016 patients could go to their doctor and be prescribed cannabis is simply political spin and propaganda.

On 1 November 2016 when cannabis was rescheduled from Schedule 9 to Schedule 8 there was an expectation that seriously ill and dying patients would have URGENT and EFFICIENT access to cannabis under Category A whereby their doctors only need to notify the TGA that they are treating a patient with an unapproved medicine.

But on the same day, in an unconscionable act, the Federal Health Minister Sussan Ley, with the approval of the Prime Minister and Cabinet moved the goal posts by making discretionary changes to the Therapeutic Goods Regulations that removed access to all forms of cannabis under Category A.

Sussan Ley has failed to honour the Government's commitment from October 2015 to make the SAS work for patients! The attached video (October 2015) is when the Federal Health Minister, Sussan Ley announced in the Australian Parliament that the Commonwealth intended to introduce legislation in December 2015 to amend the Narcotic Drugs Act 1967 to allow the states to cultivate cannabis for medical purposes.

During the same speech, Sussan Ley also made a very firm commitment to make the Special Access Scheme (SAS) work as effectively and as well as possible for patients who needed urgent access. Sussan Ley: "While it's legal to import supplies and provide them always of course with your doctor at the centre of your treatment we know those supplies are very hard to get and are very expensive .... the SAS that operates within the Therapeutic Goods Administration is the one there now for patients that need help urgently and I am committed to make the Special Access Scheme work as effectively and as well as possible. ...... the steps we take in health must always be with the patients in mind and this is very much a measure for the patients.... their advice, their input, their passion and their advocacy has brought this to the attention of the Australian Parliament. Sussan Ley's Facebook page -19 October 2015.

* There is still no lawful supply of Australian cultivated and manufactured cannabis available.
* Currently the Government is only allowing access to the cannabis products that have already been imported into the country through and authorised prescriber or through Category B which needs TGA approval and in most cases also state approval.  

* At a State and Territory level, cannabis is being controlled as a drug of addiction similar to methadone. After doctors obtain the mandatory TGA Category B approval, in most states they must also obtain state approval under a bureaucratic process that duplicates the TGA process, delaying access for months.

* Patients all across Australia, have been left as criminals under unjust State drug laws; parents are at the added risk of the intervention of child services while an untaxed and unregulated black market continues to flourish costing the states billions in law enforcement, courts, prisons and legal aid.

PLEASE SIGN AND SHARE OUR PETITION TODAY

When you sign this petition, all Members of the House of Representatives will receive a copy of the attached letter.

1. We request the Malcolm Turnbull Government, to pass the Greens Bill to secure Category A to imported cannabis products and to Australian made cannabis products when they become available.
2. We want all Federal, and State and Territory Governments to stop coming between the doctor patient relationship and get out of the way of patients who, with the support of their own doctors, are trying to access cannabis, as there is more than sufficient evidence to draw on from overseas that shows cannabis to be a very safe, non toxic and effective herbal medicine for a range of conditions!
3. We want all State and Territory Governments to stop criminalising patients and carers under unjust state and territory drug laws if patients are growing their own cannabis or possessing cannabis for medical purposes.

Patient's right to access unapproved medicines under the SAS

Category A patients are defined in the Therapeutic Goods Regulations: “persons who are seriously ill with a condition from which death is reasonably likely to occur within a matter of months, OR from which premature death is reasonably likely to occur in the absence of early treatment.”
All other patients can access unapproved medicines under Category B which needs TGA and State approval.

Interpretation of Category A - Australian Parliament 1991 "The way the definition of Category A was intended to be interpreted can be gained by reference to the discussion in the Australian Parliament in 1991 at the time the definition was being framed for inclusion in the Act. The following statement was made by Senator Tate: "when people are confronting the certainty of death and have a terminal or life-threatening illness, special provisions clearly ought to be made to help them psychologically face that prospect by giving them assurance that virtually whatever they wish, by way of administration of a drug of which they have learnt, can be undertaken" (Hansard, Senate 12 December 1991).

The SAS is very much patient driven as generally the patient finds out about the treatment, organises and pays the supplier, and must give their full informed consent and assume full liability for any adverse outcomes of the treatment.
The SAS provides that under certain circumstances a patient has a right to access ANY unapproved therapeutic good.
* Any registered medical practitioner in Australia, who forms the view that his/her patient meets the Category A criteria can supply ANY unapproved therapeutic good without TGA approval, except for substances listed in Schedule 9.
* The TGA state that the choice of the classification of each patient lies with the prescribing doctor, and not with the TGA or the State.
* GPs or specialists can apply for SAS approval, there are no age restrictions, or restrictions on the medical conditions that can be treated with unapproved medicines.

* Some of the States have restricted access to specialists only, or patients with certain conditions.

* Even though Queensland has the most progressive medical cannabis provisions and allows GPs to prescribe cannabis, the state process can take months.

* The intentions of Parliament when the Special Access Scheme was introduced in 1991 are very clear - seriously ill and dying patients should be able to access "...virtually whatever they wish, by way of administration of a drug of which they have learnt.."
*It's a patient's right, in consultation with their doctor, to choose their own treatment, NOT the Governments.
* Patients were able to access Schedule 4 and Schedule 8 nabiximols under Category A before the changes were made in November 2016.
* The cannabis used for the research trials is being exported from countries that allow patients direct access for actual use to treat a range of conditions on the recommendation of their doctor.
* No other country makes patients wait for research trials or controls unregistered/unapproved cannabis (a botanical product) under a prescription and scheduling model that requires both Federal and State government approval.

The Government needs to stop coming between the doctor patient relationship, and get out of the way of patients who, with the support of their doctors are trying to access cannabis as there is sufficient evidence to draw on from overseas to show cannabis to be a very safe and effective therapy for a range of conditions.

No patient should have to wait months for their doctor to go through such lengthy convoluted processes to obtain both Federal and State Government approvals to access a safe botanical medicine like cannabis when dangerous drugs such as morphine, methadone and benzodiazepines can be prescribed and dispensed on the same day. Patients with the support of their own doctors should be able to access cannabis in a timely manner and without the fear of being arrested and charged under unjust state drug laws.

PLEASE SIGN AND SHARE OUR PETITION TODAY

Thank you for taking the time to read our petition. This is a very complex issue when it shouldn't be. 

This petition is supported by the following groups.
Medical Cannabis Advisory Group Queensland, Facebook
Queensland Medical Cannabis Collective
United in Compassion
MCUA
Weeded Warrior
WACAN

For further information about the SAS see the TGA's publication: Access to Unapproved Therapeutic Goods via the Special Access Scheme (Nov 2009).

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  • Malcolm Turnbull


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