Cannabis has been given a bad rap over the years. It’s been demonised and dismissed, without investigation into its healing properties or its use for anything other than getting high.
Only recently has its true potential been unlocked as more and more researchers turn to the mysterious cannabis plant for treatment.
But who will qualify for the medical green?
Lyn Cleaver, a mother from East Tamar told the ABC that she uses medical cannabis to treat her son’s seizures, she has put her name down for potential access to Tasmania’s Controlled Access Scheme. Unfortunately for those who have applied, there are no guarantees.
It's the first medication that we've given Jeremy that comes side-effect free, which is remarkable.
"In order to keep Jeremy safe we will have to continue to break the law, and we won't be alone."
There are concerns however that the scheme will be quite limiting and selective, and could potentially leave some who need the treatment empty handed. Nicole Cowles has been treating her daughter’s seizures with medicinal cannabis for four years, she is wary of the scheme and believes that signing up could restrict treatment.
"There are so many seriously ill and chronically ill patients who deserve the right of access to a medication that can relieve their suffering," she said.
In reality, according to medical professionals, the treatment will only be available for two particularly rare strains of childhood epilepsy.
Many Tassie doctors feel pressured as the evidence to show that medicinal cannabis works is very limited.
Despite fears that the controversial treatment will be very selective, Health minister, Michael Ferguson is optimistic the scheme will not be restrictive and will be available for a broad array of illnesses.
As I have made it clear, the pathway is not disease-specific, however, we have placed the resource anticipating extra referrals paediatric epilepsy.
The use of medicinal cannabis under law is different in every state.There is yet to be a federal stance on its use and distribution.
For now, Tasmania’s Cannabis will be imported from overseas and will be subsidised under the PBS scheme.
Header: Photograph by Lynn Johnson, Marijuana’s advocates believe the long-maligned plant can enhance life—and help deliver people from sickness and pain.