Western Australia Inquiry Into Hemp And Medical Cannabis

A Select Committee in WA will be looking into issues regarding accessing medical cannabis and opportunities for industrial hemp in the state.

Last week, Western Australia’s State Government agreed to allow the Legalise Cannabis -Western Australia Party to lead an inquiry. The party’s Dr Brian Walker MLC will be chairing the committee, which will report back to Parliament on the potential to amend  current regulations.

“I’m looking forward to the day when I can share some time with the Premier, discussing all the ways that we can enhance the lives of Western Australians,” said Dr. Walker.

The Western Australian Electoral Commission registered the Legalise Cannabis-Western Australia Party in January this year. The Party believes there are significant economic benefits in developing a cannabis and hemp textile industry in the state, that the administration of medicinal cannabis in WA is a mess, and prices for medicines are too high for patients.

The party is the second state party to be formed in Australia with the support of the Medical Cannabis Users Association of Australia Inc (MCUA).

While any doctor in Western Australia can prescribe medicinal cannabis if they believe treatment is suitable for a patient, few are willing to do so and the required Government approvals can be tricky; although the situation has improved somewhat in recent years. Prescriptions for medicinal cannabis can be dispensed at any pharmacy in Western Australia, but the cost of medicines is  very steep.

In terms of hemp in WA, this is regulated under the state’s Industrial Hemp Act 2004. Licensed farmers are able to grow crops not exceeding more than 1.0% tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) in the flowering heads and leaves. This is actually a higher level than in many jurisdictions, where the most common threshold is 0.3%. The McGowan government has also been quite supportive of the local hemp industry, issuing various grants.

Although gung-ho on cannabis, Dr. Walker said the Cannabis and Hemp Select Committee would be unbiased and include MPs from Labor and the Nationals.

Among the issues it will be reporting on:

  • The current barriers to pharmaceutical/nutraceutical use of cannabinoid products.
  • Medical cannabis availability and affordability.
  • The potential benefits and risks of permitting industrial hemp for human consumption.

It’s not clear what the last point refers to as hemp seed for food purposes has been legal in Australia since late 2017. Australia was the last country in the world to have a ban on all forms of hemp seed foods.

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