Article by Adam Gartrell, The Sydney Morning Herald
Terminally ill patients will get faster access to medicinal marijuana and be able to import their own personal supply after the Greens teamed up with Labor and One Nation to deliver a shock Senate vote to kill off government restrictions.
The Senate vote means terminally ill patients with a doctor’s prescription will be able to personally import up to three months’ supply of the drug from regulated overseas markets.
A furious Health Minister Greg Hunt called the move “reckless and irresponsible”, saying it would put lives at risk by paving the way for dodgy unregulated products, and also make it easier for criminals to get their hands on drugs.
Greens Leader Richard Di Natale spearheaded the motion, which failed when he first put it to the Senate in May. On Tuesday, he used a procedural loophole to force a re-run – despite frantic government efforts to stymie it – and won the support of the opposition and much of the crossbench.
The binding vote means medicinal cannabis will be put on the Therapeutic Goods Administration’s Category A list, which gives patients expedited access. Under Turnbull government regulations, the drug was on the Category B list where approvals can take much longer.
Senator Di Natale says waiting times for the sick and dying will now be reduced to days or even hours, down from weeks or months.
Pauline Hanson’s party voted for the Greens’ motion despite voting against it last month – a move that attracted an angry backlash from One Nation supporters. Senator Hanson accused the government of misleading her before the previous vote.