Published by The Member for Mount Gambier Troy Bell
The first regional South Australian medicinal cannabis forum will be held in Mount Gambier, as Independent MP Troy Bell pushes for legislative reform around the products.
The Member for Mount Gambier will introduce a four-part motion in State Parliament on Wednesday.
The motion will call on the State Government to remove jurisdictional and legislative barriers, streamline patient access pathways and also raise the potential for down-scheduling low-dose CBD products.
Mr Bell said the intention of the forum, being held on May 6, was to inform the local community about the most up-to-date information, research and upcoming changes for the medicinal cannabis sector.
“I expect 2020 to be a big year for legislative change around these products, both at a State and Federal level and for social change at a community level,” he said.
“Since late 2016, it has been legal to prescribe medicinal cannabis but the research is showing South Australian doctors are the least likely in the nation to prescribe medicinal cannabis.
“People in my electorate are telling me they can’t access medicinal cannabis products for legitimate health concerns so it’s clear there’s a significant information void out there.”
Representatives from Leafcann will present at the forum, who are currently developing Australia’s largest medicinal cannabis manufacturing facility in Adelaide.
Mr Bell said the region should be looking for opportunities within the growing sector.
“The medicinal cannabis industry is expected to be worth $1billion within Australia alone by 2025,” he said.
“It makes sense to inform ourselves as much as we can from industry leaders as to how our region can be involved and how we can develop those skills and facilities needed for the future.”
The forum will include one session for the general public and another additional session for GPs, police, councils and additional stakeholders.
Also speaking at the event will be Mount Gambier’s Katherine Height, whose daughter Ella is currently participating in a long-term medicinal cannabis clinical trial in Victoria.
Katherine said she had fought for years to access the products in South Australia for Ella’s epilepsy, after traditional medication options failed.
“Because of medicinal cannabis, I got my girl back,” she said. “As it stands today, Ella has had a 35 per cent reduction in her seizures and 2019 has been her best year by far.
“I have friends who have courageous, resilient children who have exhausted all options and whose quality of life is deteriorating daily, whose only option left to try is medicinal cannabis, yet like me, are being turned away.
“Yes, every case is different, and every child is different, but these families should be given the opportunity to try. South Australians shouldn’t have to go interstate to access these products.”
Mr Bell said it was time for legislative change to remove barriers to accessing the products.
“The fact we have South Australians with legitimate medical needs having to cross the border to access the products through clinical trials shows it’s time for action by the South Australian Government.”
The forum will be held on May 6 at the Uni SA Mount Gambier campus, with registrations available in coming weeks.