ADJOURNMENT | MEDICINAL CANNABIS

Mr Melhem: My adjournment matter is directed to the Minister for Health and Minister for Ambulance Services, the Honourable Jenny Mikakos.

I note the announcement by the minister that the Andrews Labor government is set to expand the compassionate access scheme from 60 to 90 places. Ten children with intractable epilepsy will be added to the scheme this year, followed by a further 20 children next year. This initiative will provide sick Victorian children access to potentially life-changing medicinal cannabis treatment. Medicinal cannabis can be a vital adjunct when other medicines and treatments have failed. Victoria has taken the lead when it comes to medicinal cannabis use in Australia. Leadership from the Andrews Labor government has led to the commonwealth allowing doctors to prescribe medicinal cannabis and also removing a ban on the importation of medicinal cannabis.

The emerging medicinal cannabis market in Victoria is also boosting Victoria’s economy. Global companies settling in Victoria have generated 500 jobs in the industry, making Victoria a world leader in production and research. This activity also means the Victorian government can cease production of cannabidiol and use up to 12 kilos of remaining product for crucial research and medical trials. While this initiative is achieving incredible outcomes for Victorian families, there is still a large amount of stigma regarding the use of medicinal cannabis, particularly with children. We need to work towards removing this stigma to ensure that every child suffering a serious illness, like intractable epilepsy, is given the opportunity to live a healthier and happier life. While there are many Victorians who could benefit from medicinal cannabis, price is now the biggest barrier to access, with the cost of these treatments often well beyond the reach of most families. The action I seek is that the minister continue to lobby the federal government to list these products on the pharmaceutical benefits scheme so that more Victorians can access these potentially life-changing treatments.