Malcolm Turnbull has rejected One Nation’s proposed medicinal cannabis amnesty, saying the government does not have the power and an amnesty for dangerous illicit substances would be “irresponsible”.
In an interview with ABC radio in Brisbane, the prime minister also reassured Australians that it was “unlikely” classified information had leaked as the result of Yahoo accounts of ministers being compromised in 2013.
Immediately before the interview Steve Dickson, the former Queensland Liberal National party MP who defected to One Nation on Friday over the cannabis issue, told ABC that calling an amnesty would help Turnbull demonstrate he had “not lost touch”.
Queensland has passed a bill legalising the use of medicinal suppliers but there are no licensed suppliers yet in Australia, raising fears that people could be prosecuted for using the drug for pain relief.
“We don’t have the power to issue a general amnesty,” Turnbull said.
He warned the health department was concerned people were “treating themselves with a powerful medicine sourced from elicit market” because there were “no controls on the safety and quality of medicines bought this way”.
Turnbull cited the example of two women in New South Wales hospitalised because the strength of cannabis used in their treatment was “much higher than expected”.
“It would be irresponsible to be giving a free-ranging amnesty over conduct that is against the law ... And may well involve using substances that are very very dangerous indeed.”
He said the government had set up a medicinal cannabis licensing scheme to allow for cultivation of safe products but conceded none were yet licensed in Australia.
Turnbull said medicinal cannabis could be imported under a Therapeutic Goods Administration scheme, if it was prescribed by a doctor.