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GPs call for end to political interference in medicinal cannabis

05 March, 2018

The Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP) has welcomed moves by the New South Wales State Government as an opportunity to move towards a national medicinal cannabis access scheme.

RACGP President Dr Bastian Seidel said it was time sign off by state bureaucrats was no longer part of the approval process for access to medicinal cannabis.

“NSW Health Minister Brad Hazzard’s changes are welcomed by frustrated GPs and their patients,” Dr Seidel said.

“For too long there has been too much political interference in patient access to medicinal cannabis, which is why we have been calling it ‘political cannabis’.

“The March 2nd announcement removes some of this interference and brings NSW patients a step closer to an efficient and sensible process for access to medicinal cannabis.

“Patients and doctors should not have to jump through hoops and wait months to access a drug that may improve a patient’s quality of life.”

Dr Seidel said all Australian health ministers must now work together to create and introduce a nationally consistent framework for medicinal cannabis access.

“There is no reason our states cannot commit to a nationally consistent framework,” Dr Seidel said.

“I would like to see this happen at the Council of Australian Government (COAG) meeting in April.

“It is about time we make this work for all Australians, regardless of where they live.

“Your postcode should never determine your access to appropriate healthcare, and that includes access to medicinal cannabis.”

Dr Seidel said medicinal cannabis was an emerging field and there was still significant confusion about who could access the drug.

“Medicinal cannabis is never the first line of treatment for any medical condition but there is evidence that it might be the treatment of last resort for some patients,” Dr Seidel said.

“If I have a patient, who has tried all standard treatment options without success, I should be able to consider prescribing medicinal cannabis as a viable treatment option without having to wait months.”

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