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Carers Are Happy With Medical Cannabis Deal, But Want More Federal Assurance

Greg Hunt announced a landmark supply policy on Wednesday.

22/02/2017 11:12 AM AEDT | Updated 23/02/2017 8:28 AM AEDT

"Cautiously optimistic" is how carers are responding to health minister Greg Hunt's announcement that internationally supplied medical cannabis will be made more widely available to people suffering chronic illnesses.

Hunt announced on Wednesday that the Government would allow certain companies in Australia to import medical cannabis from overseas, and sell it to patients who have been prescribed the product by their doctor.

But Jenny Hallam -- a south Australian medical cannabis supplier who was raided by police last year-- told The Huffington Post Australia there is a ring of familiarity to the minister's announcement.

"We are cautiously optimistic," Hallam said. "We don't want to get too excited until we hear the detail."

Fairfax
Health Minister Greg Hunt announced changes to how medical cannabis will be imported to Australia on Wednesday

While federal and state legislators are moving towards making access easier, the pace is too slow for some suffering chronic illnesses. Currently patients are unable to easily access medical cannabis from overseas sources, while a number of domestic trials are being run.

Under the new scheme announced by Hunt on Wednesday, companies will be allowed to import medical cannabis in bulk and sell directly to patients meaning a shorter wait time to access the product.

Hallam wants clarification about how it will be done.

"People are frustrated and still scared and until we get an amnesty, until they basically say yes we can use it without fear of prosecution... it's all well and good to do things federally but we're still in a bit of a limbo," she said.

"We hope they take it out of the hands of the states and do something federally so that everybody has to basically follow the same guidelines."

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has said the government doesn't have the power to grant an amnesty, while NSW Labor is pushing to have laws passed in the state decriminalising the medication for people suffering certain illnesses.

Growing Support

AOL/Eoin Blackwell
Katrina Mosley wants easier access to locally supplied medical cannabis oil to treat her daughter, Katelyn

Earlier this month, Hallam and Katrina Mosley, whose daughter Kaitlyn suffers a life threatening form of epilepsy, spoke with Senators Derryn Hinch and Pauline Hanson, and Hunt.

Like Hallam, Mosley wants more detail from Tuesday's annoucnement but remains cautiously optimistic.

After the early February rally, Mosley showed Hunt a video of one of little Kaitlyn's fits.

Mosley said he was moved to near tears.

"He was visibly moved," said Hallam, who was also at the meeting.

A spokesman for Hunt confirmed the account with HuffPost Australia, and Hunt appeared to reference the meeting on Wednesday.

"There were a couple that I think had really struck me," Hunt said.

"One was a mother with a child who has absolutely severe epilepsy, and as a parent I just cannot imagine how distressing that is, both for the parent and even more so of course for this beautiful young child."

Prior to Hunt's announcement, Mosely had been recommended an overseas cannabis oil product suitable for over 25s. She wasn't comfortable using that on her daughter, and so she accesses a locally made product.

Part of the decision to take that route came from experience: like many carers using cannabis oil, the strain of the plant and the precise mix of the oil can, anecdotally at least, change the experience of the treatment.

Mosley said she emailed Hunt "every day" since that meeting to demand action on medical cannabis and an amnesty for those who use it.



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