Just 36 applications to get medicinal cannabis through Tasmania’s Controlled Access Scheme have been made and more than half were knocked back, a Department of Health spokeswoman has confirmed.
Since the scheme came into effect in 2017, 16 Tasmanians have been allowed to access medicinal cannabis.
On the mainland, where a Specialist Access Scheme operates in all jurisdictions and any registered medical practitioner can prescribe medicinal cannabis, the Therapeutic Goods Administration has approved more than 56,000 applications.
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“We’ve got the weakest, most obstructive medicinal cannabis scheme in the country,” she said.
“[The] Controlled Access Scheme is so controlling rarely can anyone access it.”
“The government has prioritised an industry over people who are sick and whose specialists say need medicinal cannabis,” she said.
The former Health Minister who introduced the Controlled Access Scheme, Michael Ferguson, said GPs were not keen to be prescribers of medicinal cannabis.
“GPs in Tasmania, through their medical college and through the Australian Medical Association, don’t want that approach, they want the specialist to be the compassionate and expert provider of that healthcare,” he said.
Other Australian states and territories should follow the lead of Tasmania, Mr Ferguson said.
“Better than any other state in the country, we actually provide the product as well, which can be very expensive,” he said.
“It would be a good thing if other states would adopt the Tasmanian approach.”