NSW Labor says relief for terminally ill people, their families and carers is again out of reach after the NSW Government this week voted down legislation to decriminalise cannabis possession.
The legislation ensures that sufferers of terminal and serious medical conditions who rely on medicinal cannabis to ease their pain would no longer be treated as criminals.
Labor says it also creates the mechanism to create a safe and lawful supply chain of product, to make access a practical reality for sufferers.
The legislation put up by the party seeks to decriminalise the possession of small amounts of cannabis (up to 15 grams) for treatment of chronic and serious medical conditions for medically certified sufferers and their carers, requiring them to receive photo identification and medical certification from NSW Health in order to possess medicinal cannabis.
These amounts can be adjusted by regulation, according to medical treatment need.
Currently people who purchase cannabis to alleviate the pain and distress associated with chronic and terminal illnesses face strict criminal penalties under the Crimes Act (1900).
Labor’s legislation adopted the key recommendations from a NSW Parliamentary Inquiry into the use of cannabis for medicinal purposes which received unanimous support from five political parties including NSW Labor, Liberal Party, National Party, the Greens and the Shooters, Fishers and Farmers Party.
Opposition leader Luke Foley said it was ‘deeply disappointing that the government has denied legislation that will restore dignity to those people seeking temporary relief from the pain and suffering of their affliction’.
‘Those who are suffering from terminal and serious medical conditions deserve sympathy and support- and they should not be treated like a criminal for seeking respite from relentless and unwavering illness,’ he said.
‘By refusing to pass this legislation, the NSW Government has put up an unnecessary hurdle for sufferers of terminal and chronic illnesses,’ Mr Foley said.
Labor’s leader in the Legislative Council, Adam Searle, said the unanimous recommendations of the Parliamentary inquiry were delivered in 2013.
‘Labor has always been ready, willing and able to work with the NSW Government to make access to medicinal cannabis a reality,’ Mr Searle said.
‘It is tragic they have refused to work with us to progress this matter. We will now see if the Legislative Council is prepared to support these vital measures.’
Illnesses that would be taken to be terminal or serious medical conditions:
- Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV);
- (c) motor neurone disease;
- multiple sclerosis;
- the neurological disorder known as stiff person syndrome;
- severe and treatment-resistant nausea and vomiting due to chemotherapy; or
- pain associated with cancer; or
- neuropathic pain; or
- an illness or condition declared by the regulations to be a terminal or serious medical condition.