Mr BELL (Mount Gambier) (15:44): I rise to clarify a few points for those who have been following a debate that we were meant to have in this house last Wednesday around medical cannabis. A number of people phoned our office wondering why that debate did not occur. Quite simply, the debate did not occur because government business takes precedence over private members' motions.
However, I want to assure all those people who have been following these developments and are passionate about medical cannabis that I will be working with the government to increase the supply of medical cannabis and the awareness of health professionals regarding the prescription and benefits of medical cannabis. For those who are suffering through pain, have a child with epilepsy or cancer-related appetite suppression, this development will continue.
On 6 May, I will be hosting the first regional forum for medical cannabis. It will be conducted by LeafCann, which is a Western Australian company that is investing in South Australia in Adelaide. They are coming to Mount Gambier to host two sessions: one for our health professionals, police, members of our legal fraternity, council CEOs, mayors and elected members and then a second forum for the wider community. They will occur on 6 May.
To highlight the interest in this area, I put a post up yesterday talking about this forum, and in 24 hours we have had 7,100 views and 194 comments—overwhelmingly positive comments talking about their personal circumstances or general support for this decision. I have also had another member of parliament ask whether it would be okay if they held the same type of forum around the same time, which I think is fantastic. Whilst we have LeafCann over here, I see great synergies in working together.
In terms of an industry, medical cannabis is tipped to be a billion dollar industry by 2025. That is an industry that I would like regional South Australia to be engaged with fully. Of course, my preference would be Mount Gambier. I think we need to look at the manufacturing and processing of medical cannabis. Before some people get a little bit caught up in themselves, we need to realise that medical cannabis has either no THC or minute amounts of THC, which is the active ingredient that provides the high or the effect that most people would relate to cannabis.
In fact, if I had my way, I would rename the product so that the word 'cannabis' or 'marijuana' did not actually appear anywhere because we are talking about different strains that have low THC but certainly high cannabinoid qualities that form an oil.
Quickly touching on why I am so passionate about this, the member for Waite and I invited a number of parents to come and talk to the Minister for Health, the Hon. Stephen Wade, about their experience with medical cannabis oil and the effect that it has had on their child who has severe epilepsy. Out of the 12 or 13 parents, there was not a dry eye in the house when they talked about the effect that this oil has on the quality of life for their child: 100-plus seizures a day going down to one or two or no seizures.
We face a significant problem and that is the cost. Some parents are paying up to $2,000 a month for the oil because it is so expensive. Supply is an issue and awareness is an issue. I think that this is an industry that we need to get behind, and regional South Australia can really benefit.
Mr PEDERICK: Mr Speaker, I draw your attention to the state of the house.
A quorum having been formed: