A Greens senator says it’s cruel to deny the ill access to medical cannabis because of the stigma associated with it.
Senator Richard di Natale, who is a doctor, says there’s clear evidence that medical cannabis can be very effective for prescribed medical purposes.
‘‘I just think it’s cruel to deny people the option just because there’s some stigma associated with it,’’ he told the Nine Network on Sunday, amid a renewed push to legalise the drug for medical use.
‘‘We’re going to push to try and get people on all sides of politics to back this reform.
‘‘The science and the evidence is very, very clear.’’
The recently re-established Parliamentary Group on Drug Policy and Law Reform, convened by federal Labor, coalition and Green MPs, discussed the issue in Canberra on Thursday.
Liberal co-convener Sharman Stone said trials had shown the value of using medicinal cannabis in relieving suffering associated with some terminal conditions.
‘‘As a compassionate society we must join other developed nations in allowing the regulated use of medicinal cannabis,’’ Ms Stone said.
The NSW Parliament is expected to consider legislation to give terminally ill patients access to cannabis after senior cabinet ministers voiced support for a private member’s bill to be introduced in August.
Australia’s largest doctors’ union, the Australian Medical Association, has acknowledged cannabis has ‘‘therapeutic potential’’.
Senator di Natale said politicians tended to shy away from controversial issues, but they had to be guided by science and evidence.
He wants to see cannabis growers licensed in the same way as poppy growers.
‘‘It’s a very, very effective drug,’’ he said. ‘‘Medical marijuana is much less addictive than some of the opiate-type painkillers we already give.’’
He said medical cannabis helped cancer patients manage their weight, pain and nausea.