THE Tasmanian government is “absolutely unenthusiastic” and a company thought to be pioneering medical marijuana trials is “well short of the mark”.
That’s the blunt assessment from a local MP following a fruitless fact-finding mission to Tasmania this week by a delegation of NSW politicians.
The group, which included Tamworth MP Kevin Anderson and local MLCs Trevor Khan and Sarah Mitchell, spent three days in Tasmania in the hope of solving the supply issue threatening to derail the medical marijuana campaign.
While a groundswell of NSW MPs is believed to support decriminalising cannabis for the terminally ill, the issue remains in the legal mire because of concerns around cultivation and supply.
The MPs were hoping fledgling Tasmanian company Tascan could help shed light on the issue but were left in doubt it would commence clinical trials any time soon.
“The impression we were given (before leaving) was that clinical trials were well advanced but that’s clearly not the case,” Tamworth-based MLC Trevor Khan said.
“They are unequivocally well short of the mark and Tasmanian health minister Michael Ferguson is absolutely unenthusiastic (about allowing clinical trials).
“It’s obvious our path through this issue does not involve Tasmania.”
He said Tamworth MP Kevin Anderson would still proceed with a private member’s bill but it would focus on decriminalising small amounts of cannabis for the terminally ill.
The bill would provide a mechanism for licensed growing, manufacturing and dispensing in NSW but what form, or how long, that would take Mr Khan was unsure.
The delegation also met with the Tasmanian health department, the nurses and midwives association, police, the University of Tasmania and even toured a legal Tasmanian poppy plantation.
“Tascan were certainly not as advanced as we had hoped ... they haven’t even lodged an application with the government,” Mr Anderson said.
“They’re not even on first base.
“But the visit was still interesting and I don’t see it as a setback.
“We went down to see what others were doing and it seems they’re in the same boat as NSW.
“It’s up to us now to put the best argument forward we can to convince parliament to proceed.”
He remained confident the bill would be tabled by mid-August.
Tamworth mum Lucy Haslam, whose son Dan has been the public face of the campaign, was philosophical about the Tasmanian visit.
“It’s not the end of the world; these things are part of the learning process,” Mrs Haslam said.
“It’s just made me more determined to make this happen in NSW.”