Calls for less red tape on medical pot

Finbar O'Mallon
A parliamentary inquiry has made 20 recommendations to improve access and use of medicinal cannabis

Red tape, poor education and high costs are keeping people from legally accessing medicinal cannabis, a parliamentary inquiry has found.

A committee looking into the issue has released a list of 20 recommendations aimed at cutting loopholes but also subsidising costs.

It wants an independent cannabis regulator set up in 12 months if the Therapeutic Goods Association hasn't freed up access to the substance.

Committee member and Greens health spokesman Richard Di Natale says doctors lack awareness around medicinal cannabis, with overlapping state and federal laws hampering access.

"There are a range of changes the government needs to make now and if they don't fix this mess, the system needs to be overhauled," he said on Wednesday.

The inquiry has also called for the medicinal cannabis industry to cut prices for those facing financial hardship and for the government to introduce a subsidy scheme.

Senator Di Natale said current legal costs could reach into the thousands of dollars, forcing people to buy cannabis illegally.

"People should never have to consider breaking the law to access the medical treatments they need," he said.

The committee also wants a review of the different state and territory legislation around cannabis, with medicinal users being fined for driving on or possessing cannabis.

Education programs should also be targeted at doctors to help them understand how patients could access medicinal cannabis, the committee has recommended.

This would also include training for medical students.

Senator Di Natale said the committee had heard from patients across the country.

"The committee has taken a good look at the system and we know it's not working," he said.