Mrs Armitage (Launceston) - Mr President, I rise to make a short contribution. I note Committee A has completed its final report on legalised medical cannabis. I thank the members of the committee for the considerable time they spent investigating this very important issue.
I believe the committee received 72 submissions, with 23 groups or individuals giving evidence in person at hearings held in Hobart over the three days in September 2014. I am told that they heard some powerfully moving stories of very sick Tasmanians whose health has improved considerably after receiving cannabis treatment.
The Examiner newspaper last month reported about Launceston mother, Lyn Cleaver. She spoke about the huge difference it has made to her 24-year-old son, Jeremy Bester, who suffers from a form of epilepsy that is resistant to most medications. Ms Cleaver said that if Jeremy was not able to access cannabis he could suffer regular seizures lasting for three or four hours. For a 24-year-old man, you cannot put a price on what it means for him to be able to avoid that level of constant suffering.
Since the committee first started their inquiry, there have been other important developments that have sharpened the focus on the issue of decriminalising cannabis used for medicinal purposes in Tasmania. I note the member for Murchison mentioned the private member's bill in the Senate - the Regulator of Medicinal Cannabis Bill. The Greens, the Liberals, Labor and the Liberal Democrats were all part of it. The bill aims to set up an independent regulator for licensing the growth, manufacture and distribution of medicinal cannabis.
There is now a trial of medicinal cannabis in New South Wales for epileptic children, terminally ill adults and cancer patients. I believe that Tasmania's Chief Pharmacist is an observer on a panel assisting this trial. I look forward to seeing the results of those clinical trials.
It is also important that the police have confirmed that people taking cannabis legitimately for a medicinal purpose will not necessarily be prosecuted. This is particularly important for people who can find no other treatment for their illness, cancer or epilepsy.
I am not going to repeat what has been said, but decriminalising cannabis for medicinal use in Tasmania has become a pressing issue for many in our community. I appreciate all the work that is being done by Committee A in looking into it.