The Association of Alcohol and other Drug Agencies NT (AADANT) has called for easier access to medical cannabis in the Northern Territory.
While there are over 50,000 medical cannabis patients across the rest of Australia, NT’s first medical cannabis patient was only approved ten months ago. Since then, accessing the doctor-prescribed drugs hasn’t become any easier.
Responsible for representing over 20 drug and alcohol treatment organisations, AADANT is an independent non-profit. This week, they have called for equitable access to medical cannabis – as they argue accessing the drug is extremely difficult for Territorians. On their website, Chief Executive Officer Peter Burnheim wrote:
Insufficient investment and support for people seeking to use this medication continue to result in very low uptake of medical cannabis in the NT.
As medical cannabis is only prescribed as a last resort, Territorians who cannot access cannabis medications are left with no other medication options. Instead, many are choosing to access marijuana illegally.
Back in July, the National Household Drugs Survey found that only 2.7% – 3.9% of medical cannabis is accessed through a legal prescription. In the NT, this is resulting in patients facing criminal charges and imprisonment.
To resolve this problem, AADANT has called for personal possession to be legalised in situations where the user has a legitimate medical use for cannabis. They are also advocating for the state government to invest more into medical cannabis infrastructure – including pharmacies to dispense medical cannabis to approved patients.
Finally, AADANT recommend government-subsidised training for GP’s and healthcare workers. This training will give healthcare workers stigma-free information on medical cannabis, its medical uses and Australia’s regulations.
While AADANT recognises unregulated cannabis can be harmful, they believe that Australians with addictions should receive support, not prison time. In their statement, they cite a study released in July, showing that cannabis costs our economy $4.5 billion annually.
Over $1.1 billion of that is spent on policing, prosecuting and imprisoning Australians caught with cannabis. You can read more about that here.