Illawarra MPs have once again pleaded with Minister for Medical Research Pru Goward to regulate a legal supply of medicinal cannabis, to help Towradgi man Ben Oakley treat his life-threatening seizures.
The call comes after the well-publicised police operation involving Mr Oakley’s South Australian supplier.
Mr Oakley said the police action meant he had only a limited supply of medicinal cannabis left to manage his condition.
Ben, 20, deals with the chronic pain caused by stiff person syndrome, and has stopped the life-threatening body spasms it causes.
Keira MP Ryan Park and Wollongong MP Paul Scully penned a joint letter to the minister.
‘’We understand that he is eligible to be part of the NSW Government’s trial that is currently underway but he has been informed that it will be at least six months before all of the necessary paperwork and documentation allows him to be formally placed on this trial,’’ the MPs said.
‘’That is simply not good enough for a person who is in the sort of pain Ben is when this condition takes hold,’’ they said.
‘’We are appealing to you and the Government to fast-track this process for Ben and his family so they can legally access this vital drug and assist them to manage this debilitating condition going forward.’’
Minister for Medical Research Pru Goward said she had met with Ben Oakley and his family last year.
’’Yesterday I spoke with Ben’s father Michael, and during that conversation I restated our willingness to assist his specialist with gaining access to medicinal cannabis through the legal pathway created by this Government,’’ she said.
On August 1 last year the NSW Government adjusted regulation to enable doctors to apply to prescribe cannabis-based medicine.
‘’This regulation change, which has now been in place for almost six months, means that cannabis-based medicines that were previously only able to be used in clinical trials in NSW can now be considered by doctors for patients who have exhausted standard treatment options,’’ the minister said.
This regulation has no limit on the medical conditions for which doctors can consider prescribing cannabis-based medicine.
It is a process that requires approval from the Therapeutic Goods Administration and NSW Health, she said.
‘’NSW Health and the NSW Office of Medicinal Cannabis Research and Innovation are ready and able to assist specialists wanting to prescribe medicinal cannabis through the regulatory pathways that allow legal access for their patients.’’
Like with all medicines, the question of whether to prescribe a cannabis-based medicine is one for doctors and their patients, the Minister said.