Mr PEDERICK (Hammond) (12:16): I rise to support the motion from the member for Mount Gambier:
That this house—
(a) recognises the growing importance of medicinal cannabis and cannabidiol (CBD) as an alternative treatment option to South Australians;
(b) moves to implement research and trials into the effects of cannabidiol (CBD) on patients with juvenile epilepsy, endometriosis and chronic pain; and
(c) puts South Australia at the forefront of medicinal cannabis research and treatment.
It is interesting that in this state, since the federal legislation medicinal cannabis has been able to be prescribed since November 2016, but the experience I have had through talking to constituents in my electorate office is that it has been very difficult to obtain a prescription. I believe it will get better over time.
There has been some hesitancy from doctors to take up the case of something when not a lot of clinical trial work has been done. More work is being done as time goes on. A lot of doctors are hesitant because they want to see more clinical trials. The simple fact is that people are crying out for access to medicinal cannabis. It has been legalised for just short of six years, and we need to be able to assist people with their access.
We need to get doctors to be more confident in prescribing medicinal cannabis for all sorts of ills that may be affecting patients, whether they be people who have back injuries or spinal injuries that they cannot seem to find relief for, whether they be people with epilepsy or women suffering from endometriosis, as we have just heard. There are a whole range of things for which, reportedly, medicinal cannabis can really come into play and give some relief.
A constituent I worked with a few years ago has tried to get access to it, and we helped him. He had to go through a doctor in Melbourne in the end. It became difficult and expensive, and I would like to see more doctors being prepared to prescribe medicinal cannabis to make it easier for people to access. The simple fact is that people will use other options. They might use illegal options, or they might be importing stuff from overseas. We have the legal structures in place, and I think we need to make sure that we can connect people with chronic conditions with a health network that will support them if this is what they are seeking.
I had a recent cry for help from a friend of mine whose wife was dying—and she was a very good friend of mine as well—and he wanted to know if he could get hold of medicinal cannabis, and I said that it was just not that easy. It just does not happen. I did what I could but, sadly, my constituent and my friend was in the very late stages. This was coming from a loving husband and partner who was trying to do all he could for his wife in her last weeks to have all the options available, just in case the pain relief did not come. In the end the other pain relief did come and helped her on her sad journey with her terminal illness.
Certainly, there is lots of evidence out there—some would say it is anecdotal evidence—around the support medicinal cannabis gives people with chronic pain and epilepsy and other conditions. I think we need to do all we can to make sure that people can get access to medicinal cannabis. I know there are various companies around the state that have looked at producing it and whether it is the whole supply and demand issue that is the issue—I know of one that was potentially going happen in my electorate that has not happened.
The beauty of medicinal cannabis is that it would be grown in a controlled area, controlled growing conditions, so that they can get oil levels stable, the THC level, because that is what you have to have in regard to medicinal cannabis. It would be good if we could get one of these projects going in South Australia. It has to work alongside a regime where the product can be prescribed, where it can be made more readily available through people going to their doctors with chronic pain and making sure that we can get the right forces in place to make it available for the public.
I commend the motion by the member for Mount Gambier and I just wish that we can assist people moving forward through the medical fraternity, through our doctors, so that those people with conditions and also those parents trying to look after their children with chronic conditions can get better access to medicinal cannabis into the future.