Media Release

8 February 2018

NSW Labor today accused the Berejiklian Government of purposely delaying medicinal cannabis applications from doctors for patients with terminal illnesses and other serious medical conditions.

NSW Shadow Health Minister Walt Secord and Opposition Leader in the NSW Legislative Council Adam Searle said the current approach by the Berejiklian Government is to give the impression that they support access to medicinal cannabis, but then on the other hand to thwart the applications.

“This is completely against the spirit of the good work of the former Premier Mike Baird,” Mr Secord said.

(As early as July 2014, the then-Premier Mike Baird indicated that he supported medicinal cannabis for terminally ill patients.)

Mr Secord said while in Canada and Israel, there are tens of thousands of patients getting lawful access to medicinal cannabis. In NSW, there are less than 50 patients receiving medicinal cannabis by prescription from their doctors.

Mr Secord and Mr Searle made the comments as the new Medicinal Cannabis Alliance, led by United in Compassion founder Lucy Haslam, met in Sydney today about “improving access to medicinal cannabis”.

“Sadly, patients with terminal illnesses in NSW are suffering because NSW Health is making their doctors submit and re-submit applications, resulting in hours and hours of unnecessary and cumbersome paperwork.

“Doctors have told me about desperate patients who are dying before they can navigate the cumbersome system in NSW.

“Unfortunately, this is forcing patients into the black market.”

Mr Searle said, “Access to a safe and secure medical supply of medicinal cannabis is about sympathy and compassion.”

Mr Secord and Mr Searle today confirmed that he had met and spoken with advocates and doctors concerned about the “slow and cumbersome procedures” in NSW which were meant to allow doctors to prescribe medicinal cannabis.

Mr Secord pledged that as Health Minister in a future Labor government he wanted to oversee a more compassionate access scheme for terminal patients and others with serious medical conditions to use medicinal cannabis.

In February 2017, NSW Labor leader Luke Foley and Mr Searle drafted and introduced a bill to allow sufferers of terminal and serious medical conditions to access medicinal cannabis.

In 2012, Mr Foley initiated a parliamentary inquiry into medicinal cannabis to revive discussion around the important health matter.