CANBERRA -- It may have sparked an unusual defection to One Nation and now become an unexpected flagstone for Pauline Hanson's party, but Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull insists his hands are tied over pleas for an amnesty for users and suppliers of medicinal cannabis.
Hanson and the defector, former Queensland LNP minister Steve Dickson, are lobbying the Prime Minister on behalf of terminally-ill patients and are urging One Nation supporters to join in the effort.
Turnbull and marijuana have history; in 2008 he became the first Liberal leader to admit to have smoked sweed.
While cannabis is generally illicit, medicinal cannabis has become legal in Australia, but not yet available for patients. Despite the legal change, Dickson was incensed by a police raid of a South Australian supplier of cannabis oil earlier this year and jumped ship from the LNP when One Nation offered to attempt action.
One Nation wants an amnesty for people convicted over medicinal cannabis use and supply, but the Prime Minister has told ABC Radio he can't act.
"We don't have the power to issue a general amnesty," Turnbull said, adding he thought such an amnesty would be "irresponsible".
The Prime Minister is concerned the black market cannabis oil market is unregulated and potentially "very, very" dangerous.
"The Department of health is concerned that patients are treating themselves with a powerful medicine sourced from the illicit market. There are no controls over the safety and quality of medicines bought in this way.
"Recently in New South Wales, for example, two women were hospitalised because of the strength of the cannabis they used in their treatment was much higher than expected."
Hanson and Dickson insist the cannabis oil is a lifesaver, but Turnbull said medicinal cannabis products must be proved safe and be used under supervision.
Drug laws came in to effect last year, which made the Federal Government solely responsible for issuing licences and permits under a medicinal cannabis licensing scheme.
Turnbull is urging patients to abide by the law.
"At the moment, there are not yet any licensed medicinal cannabis growers in Australia, but there will be because we have set up the licensing scheme," he said.
"Medicinal cannabis products can be and are accessed by importation. And there is a special TGA (Therapeutic Good Administration) access scheme that can be obtained by an authorised prescriber.
"We are very alert to the issue, but .. it would be irresponsible to be giving a free-ranging amnesty over conduct that is against the law and may very well .. involve using substances which are very, very dangerous indeed."
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