Labor Senators Welcome Gutwein Government's Backflip On Medicinal Cannabis

17 March 2021

Tasmanian Senators Anne Urquhart and Catryna Bilyk have welcomed Premier Peter Gutwein’s announcement that the Tasmanian government will allow GPs to prescribe medicinal cannabis under the Controlled Access Scheme, but said it should have happened much sooner.

Both senators participated in a 2020 Senate inquiry which explored the current barriers to patient access to medicinal cannabis in Australia.

The inquiry singled out Tasmania as the one jurisdiction which required approval from a specialist to access the scheme and the inquiry’s unanimous report recommended Tasmania relax this requirement.

“Senator Bilyk and I wrote to Tasmanian Health Minister Sarah Courtney about this issue on 31 January 2020,” Senator Urquhart said. “More than a year later and after two follow up letters we have not had the courtesy of an official response.”

“Of course, we were pleased to hear the announcement in the Premier’s State of the State address and that our lobbying efforts were successful. It is just such a shame that it took so long for the Gutwein government and Minister Courtney to do the right thing.”

Senator Bilyk said she and Senator Urquhart had secured a win for patients.

“The impact of the previous policy was very clear when looking at how few Tasmanians were accessing the scheme compared to patients on the mainland,” Senator Bilyk said.

“The Tasmanian government’s decision to allow patients to access the scheme through their GPs brings us into line with other states and territories. It means many more Tasmanians will finally be able to relieve the suffering of their loved ones without having to risk breaking the law.”