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Lead By: Sandy-Mackenzie

Medicinal cannabis regulation costing patients $600 a month

"Every day I wake up I have some sort of pain purely from eating food," Mr Arcuri said.

"It can cause me to be very fatigued all the time."

After years of trialling various medications with limited success, a friend suggested he try medicinal cannabis.

Last year, Mr Arcuri was prescribed a cannabis oil product from his doctor.

Seeking cannabis oil for medical purposes has been legal since 2016 when federal laws were changed to allow doctors to prescribe cannabis products to patients suffering an array of conditions.

"It's only after you get accepted, they tell you the associated costs," said Mr Arcuri, who was initially paying around $600 a month for medicinal cannabis.

He soon discovered he could buy cannabis oil for roughly a quarter that price on the black market, importing it from a US-based website.

There is currently no subsidy for cannabis products under the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS).

Doctors wishing to prescribe it must first apply to the Therapeutic Goods Administration to seek individual patient approval, a time-consuming process that provides further motivation for patients to access cannabis products via illegitimate routes.

But the licensed cannabis industry warns there is no guarantee of purity or safety with black market products.

'We have complete control over the environment'

Fleta Solomon runs a pharmaceutical company at a secret facility south of Perth that farms cannabis to make legal medicinal oil, one of the first of its kind in Australia.

"In comparison to growing in a backyard, we have complete control over the environment," Ms Solomon said.

This ensures product consistency and allows growers to continually test the plants for contaminants, bacteria and mould.

The strict regulations that Ms Solomon's company must adhere to, combined with higher production costs, means their product is more expensive than those available on the black market.

According to John Skerritt, head of the TGA, the process of listing cannabis products under the PBS is underway but may take some time.

"The situation we're working towards is for clinical trials to be done and companies to put submissions to us," Professor Skerritt said.

"But those trials take a couple of years, and then they have to get the results and submit them, as they do for any other medicine."

A Senate inquiry is now looking into problems with access and regulation of the industry as a whole.

'It's set up so we fail'

Melbourne mother Emma Broughan (Photo) relies on cannabis to relieve chronic pain caused by a car accident in 2015.

"It changed my life in so many different ways, not just the physical. Obviously it hurts. It hurts a lot every day," she said.

Like Mr Arcuri, Ms Broughan was prescribed cannabis oil by her doctor but was simply unable to afford the prescription.

"It would have ended up costing me a third of my income basically, my pension, to go on this medication," she said.

Ms Broughan believes she is left with no other option than to purchases cannabis products from the black market, a practice which leaves her feeling judged.

While prescriptions for medicinal cannabis are available, Ms Broughan believes the high price means the product remains inaccessible for many Australians.

"It's set up so we'd fail. Here it is, but we can't have it. There is no way I could afford that product," she said.

Mr Arcuri hopes the Senate inquiry will prompt desperately needed change for patients.

"What I hope is that it shifts a bit more of the conversation about the issue," he said.

"It is something that could potentially help millions of more Australians that are not even aware of it at this point."

Despite the experiences of people like Mr Arcuri, there is currently limited scientific evidence that medicinal cannabis is effective against chronic pain.

2019, What A Year.

2019, What A Year.

Updated : 24-12-2019 12:03:07

There is no doubt that this year has been an eventful one for us all, filled with a mixture of good and not so good times for our community and region.

But I can’t tell you enough how proud I am of our whole community, and the way in which we have come together to support one another during the challenging times, particularly with the recent bushfire activity and drought conditions that have been impacting our region.

It’s indeed inspiring to see that during the challenging times, our community never fails to rally together and provide a helping hand to those in need, and this is when our real heroes truly do shine brightly.

To our local firies, emergency service crews, and the many wonderful volunteers who are working tirelessly to protect our homes and loved-ones, we owe you a huge thankyou.

However in light of this heartache, we will recover, and your Council will continue to support all those in our community who have in some way been impacted.

Whilst these recent events may be at the forefront in the minds of many of us, it’s important to remember all the great and exciting times we had this year. From community events like Countdown to Christmas, Artwalk and Ironman, through to the many projects which have been delivered like the Flynns Beach Seawall, Wauchope CBD upgrade and the continuation of the Camden Haven Beach to Beach Riverwalk… and let’s not forget all of the wonderful playgrounds delivered throughout our towns and villages.

And it doesn’t stop there, with many exciting projects and events to look forward to in 2020, right across our growing region.

I want to thank everyone in our community who has engaged with and assisted Council during the year, and wish everyone a very Merry Christmas.

And I really hope that our wonderful firies, emergency services personnel and volunteers get a chance to rest and enjoy the Christmas season with their family and friends - there is no doubt that they deserve it.

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Editorial |  :

The celebration of Australia Day on 26 January is not set in stone. Surely it is not beyond us to select a different date that represents how we all want to see ourselves?

There is everything right about having a unifying national day to celebrate and reflect upon all things Australian such as the land, our values and our lifestyles.

If the date of Australia Day celebrations also needs historical significance, let it have positive and meaningful associations for all Australians.

Unfortunately that is not what 26 January offers, especially for indigenous Australians.

For the First Peoples, the raising of the British flag on 26 January to establish a convict colony in New South Wales marked the beginning of an invasion that led to their decimation through murder, disease and famine.

Indigenous Australians called this same day a Day of Mourning in 1938, Invasion Day in the bicentennial year of 1988 and since 1992, Survival Day.

'Aboriginal Australians have continued to feel excluded from what has long been a British pioneering settler celebration' stated historian Elizabeth Kwan in 2007.

More inclusive alternatives to 26 January include the first day of spring - 1 September.

This was officially proclaimed National Wattle day in 1992 but wattle days in August and September have been celebrated at the state and territory level for more than a century.

The national version offers both a symbolic and practical alternative says Tammy Solonec, lawyer and Nyikina woman from the Kimberley WA.

'First it is nationally celebrated on the first day of spring; it is a beautiful time across Australia, connected with concepts of new life and fresh beginnings.

It also falls nicely in the national public holiday deficit between July and November.

And being in September and it does not clash with any State or Territory wide celebrations. Apart from the timing being good, however, the really poignant aspect of wattle day is its underlying ethos and rich history'.

The movement for the celebration of a national Wattle Day began in 1889 in Adelaide and was revived in 1909 in Sydney.

'With a view to stimulating Australian national sentiment, and connecting it with love of our beautiful flora, we suggest the desirableness of setting apart throughout the Commonwealth a day on which the Australian national flower – the Wattle Blossom – might be worn and its display encouraged.

Wattles might also be sown and planted on this day. It is suggested that a date in September would be universally suitable' (Will J. Sowden 1913).

The first wattle day was held on 1 September 1910 and took place in NSW, Victoria and South Australia.

A celebration of Australia Day on 1 September would recognise our connection to the beautiful and bountiful land that sustains us.

As long-time wattle day campaigner, Dawn Waterhouse says, 'Together, we could share the love we have for this magnificent country and the joy and privilege of being part of it'.

Suzette Searle, President Wattle Day Association Inc.

M:  0451680554    E: suzettesearle24 @ gmail.com

web: www . wattleday . asn . au

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