Press Conference - 12th August 2015

opic: Tabling of the Legal and Constitutional Affairs Legislation Committee report into the Regulator of Medicinal Cannabis Bill, 2014.

 Senator Macdonald: As Chairman of the Senate Legal and Constitutional Affairs Committee I was delighted yesterday that we were able to table what is almost a unique report in that it is unanimous by all of those who participated in the enquiry. I might say with some jest it is even more unusual that it is a bill put forward by the leader of the Greens and totally supported by me and my other colleagues in the coalition.

 I have to say when we started on this some of us had some reservations because the term cannabis conjures up all sorts of problems with the recreational use of the drug. But as the committee went through 5 days of intensive hearings from researchers from medical professionals from people who are using the substance because that is the only way they could get relief for loved ones for particular problems. This Bill is a credit to Senator Di Natale that he put the Bill forward but, it is a credit to all of those who, including many colleagues from all parties here, who have supported it.

 This Bill will be debated at some time in the Senate and that will depend of the vagaries of the Senate program, but I understand it is Senator Di Natale’s wish to have the Bill debated at an early stage and I would certainly support that.  As others have said both the Health Minister and the Prime Minster support the concept in principle but there are some technical issues which the department raised as to international obligations and I am certainly hopeful that the department and the minister will be able to work with Senator Di Natale to have the issues resolved so that we can move forward as a nation to get this regulation of cannabis adopted so the medicine can become regularly available.

This is a great report. It is a well-researched report and it will I think make a difference to Australians across the board into the future.

 Question: (inaudible)

Senator Macdonald: The Prime Minister and the Health Minister support the concept in the broad but some technical issues have been raised that the Government of Australia has to address. We do want to make sure that this no way opens the gates to the recreational use of cannabis. That is not what this is all about and I want to make that very very clear. But I would hope the Government, working with Senator Di Natale can move this forward rapidly as this is good for Australia that there aren’t any real objections to it. I might also add that in relation to the sometimes stigma of cannabis, that the Queensland Liberal National Party -sometimes seen as the most conservative of the non-Labor parties of Australia - has already passed two motions in support of this concept. So I think all of that points in the right direction and I am quite confident that Senator Di Natale’s Bill or something very close to it will be passed in the very foreseeable future. 

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