Asked 17 August 2023
Victorian Legislative Council
Rachel Payne MLC – South-eastern Metropolitan
My question is for the Attorney-General. In New South Wales the Department of Communities and Justice administers a medicinal cannabis compassionate use scheme intended to assist with delivering compassionate care for terminally ill patients. For those registered with the justice department scheme New South Wales police officers are empowered to use their discretion not to charge adults with a terminal illness for possession of certain amounts of cannabis, specifically not prescribed medicinal cannabis, if they are registered with the scheme, as well as up to three registered carers. So my question is: will the Attorney-General consider implementing a similar scheme in Victoria?
Hon. Jaclyn Symes MLC, Attoryney-General – verbal response
I thank Ms Payne for her question. There is obviously some merit in a program such as that. Obviously we are big supporters of medicinal cannabis for a variety of treatments, and for those that are terminally ill in particular I am pleased that there is greater access to medicinal cannabis. What you are talking about is non-legally prescribed cannabis for the terminally ill. My understanding is limited of how that program works, but it enables police to use their discretion, which in my mind would make it a police program and not an Attorney-General program. I would also be interested in knowing how often it is exercised, because I understand that you are only eligible if you nominate and it is in your home. There is merit in it, but it would be interesting to see if it is actually used as opposed to, I suppose, just the signal that it sends that medicinal cannabis is probably preferred. But with the discretion that police are allowed to exercise in that state it would be interesting to see how often they do and whether there is a gap here that needs to be met. I am actually more than happy to have a chat to Minister Carbines in relation to Victoria Police’s view of such a scheme.
Rachel Payne MLC – supplementary question
I thank the Attorney for her response. I also acknowledge that it may be that it is capturing carers as well, so some people may not have that access, based on cost-prohibitive medicines. By way of supplementary I ask the Attorney-General: what other steps are being taken to ensure compassionate access to cannabis for Victorians?
The PRESIDENT: I do not think it is a question for this minister’s responsibility, and I am not too sure if the supplementary was in line with what was asked in the substantive. The minister can answer any way she likes, but she looks likes she does not want to answer. Sorry, it is not for this minister.
Written response not ordered.