The mother of a Loganholme teenage boy who needs medicinal cannabis to stop violent seizures said the federal government changes cannabis's importation regulations were not going to help her son.
Lanai Carter said her 19-year-old son Lindsay, who has a brain tumour, would still have to jump through bureaucracy at both state and federal levels and there was still no guarantee of a regular supply of cannabis.
She said it would still take months to get cannabis for her son and buying imported cannabis would be expensive as it was not yet on the federal Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme.
Mrs Carter was speaking out after Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt announced the changes this morning claiming they would help families by enabling the safe storage of medicinal cannabis in Australia.
Mr Hunt said stockpiling cannabis in Australia would make access easier and faster for patients who had prescriptions for cannabis from authorised prescribers.
He said access would be simpler as individual doctors would not have to take on the onus of buying cannabis from overseas.
The policy, he said, was needed while the country’s fledgling medicinal cannabis industry established and to ensure patients had greater confidence in supply arrangements for their doctors.
The government said it expected Australia would have a store of imported medicinal cannabis by May.
Mrs Carter said the policy may save time on importation but any advantages would be lost by lengthy delays to see authorised prescribers. She said the waiting list to see a paediatric neurologist in Queensland was up to nine months.
Other concersn included uncertaintly about the range of cannabis products that would be imported and the high cost.
“Thousands of patients with life-threatening illnesses, like my son, will not have access to an authorised prescriber and will be dealing with their local GP where they have a long-term medical relationship with a doctor that understands their medical history in depth,” she said.
“These patients should not be discriminated against and should have urgent access to urgent medical cannabis without having to wait three to six months or more to see an authorised prescriber.
“They should be able to work with their GP and have access to this medicine on the same day it’s prescribed.”
At the moment, there are no public lists of authorised prescribers.
Mrs Carter also slammed claims made the Australian Medical Association about the untested possible side effects of cannabis and said duplication of regulation at the state level was ridiculous.
Her federal MP, Forde’s Bert Van Manen said he raised the issue with Mr Hunt last week.
Mr van Manen said he expressed his concerns about patients, such as Lindsay Carter, running out of supply and being forced to wait up to eight weeks for more cannabis.
“I was particularly moved by the efforts of Loganholme’s Lanai Carter who has been lobbying for these changes to assist her son who suffers seizures from a brain tumour,” he said.
“I have met with Lanai on multiple occasions and supported her efforts to improve access to medicinal cannabis.”
State Health Minister Cameron Dick said the federal move was a step in the right direction to address supply issues but would not make cannabis cheaper or access faster.
“It is important that the cost issue be addressed, which is the responsibility of the Commonwealth under programs like the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme,” he told Albert & Logan News.
“I have today written to Health Minister Greg Hunt asking the Commonwealth to accelerate steps to make sure the product is affordable, by placing it on the PBS.”
He said under the previous scheme, Queensland patients had to wait up to four months for products to arrive in Australia as there was no legal product available domestically.
In 2015, the state government allowed legal access to medicinal cannabis.