Hunt rejects cannabis proposal

cannabis medicinal

Health minister Greg Hunt has slapped down the Greens’ proposal to legalise recreational cannabis as “dangerous and medically irresponsible”

This week Greens leader Richard Di Natale announced the party’s plan to legalise cannabis for adult use, saying that the current approach to drugs is an “unmitigated disaster”.

“The war on drugs has failed. Governments around the world are realising that prohibition of cannabis causes more harm than it prevents. It’s time Australia joined them and legalised cannabis for adult use,” Dr Di Natale said.

“Prohibition has failed. Using cannabis remains illegal, but this has not stopped Australians from using it.

“As a drug and alcohol doctor, I’ve seen that the ‘tough on drugs’ approach causes enormous harm. It drives people away from getting help when they need it and exposes them to a dangerous black market.

“The Greens see drug use as a health issue, not a criminal issue. Our plan to create a legal market for cannabis production and sale will reduce the risks, bust the business model of criminal dealers and syndicates and protect young people from unfair criminal prosecutions.

Under the Greens’ plan, cannabis would be redefined as a legal substance in a regulated market, and resources would be redirected into treatment.

The plan would establish an Australian Cannabis Agency to issue licenses for production and sale of cannabis, monitor and enforce license conditions and review and monitor the regulatory scheme to ensure it is functioning properly.

Under the proposal, cannabis would only be available from “licensed retailers” who would be subject to ongoing strict rules, monitoring and evaluation. There would be “strong sanctions” for those who breach their licenses.

The Greens urged Australians to consider models operating in the US, Spain and Uruguay as examples of how legalising cannabis could lead to a reduction in crime.

Under the Uruguayan model, recreational cannabis is sold through pharmacies, and leader of the Reason Party (formerly the Sex Party) Fiona Patten told the AJP last year that Australian pharmacies would be “ideally suited” to dispense the drug.

But Health Minister Greg Hunt is not keen, telling reporters that “cannabis has very serious risks in relation to physical health, and in particular, to mental health”. 

“That’s why it’s a highly regulated drug,” the Minister said.

“There are medicinal purposes for medicinal uses, as prescribed by doctors, but this proposal for open slather has two major consequences.

“The first is the risk of physical and mental health problems. Whether it’s psychosis, anxiety, depression or other items which have been chronicled by the medical authorities, the medical risks are real and significant and important. 

“Secondly, of course, marijuana’s a gateway drug. The risk of graduating to ice or to heroin from extended marijuana use is real and documented. We’ve seen the victims of crime represented this morning with their comments. We’ve seen the AMA and so many other bodies express their concerns. 

“As the Government of Australia, our job is to protect the health of Australians. This action by the Greens risks the health of Australians. It should be rejected and they should withdraw it and we will oppose it.”

He said that using cannabis in a medicinal capacity, on a “very selective basis” was the way to manage such a drug.

“Open slather is about deep, profound health risks,” he said.

Previous TerryWhite Chemmart names its top pharmacist
Next Is Amazon stepping back from pharma?

NOTICE: It can sometimes take awhile for comment submissions to go through, please be patient.


  1. D Carthew

    Greg Hunt is just perpetuating the prohibitionist lies and propaganda. If gateway drugs were a real issue then alcohol and tobacco would be banned also. Just legalise it and stop perpetuating the lies. This is not heroin Greg its cannabis. Ask your boss Mr Turnbull about it. After all he has smoked it before and I am sure he is not the only politician who has. Look where it got him.

    • Ron Batagol

      Sorry-Greg Hunt is right-we don’t have to legalise Canbabis or legally sanction it to enable kids to get hold of it! What is beyond dispute, however, is that chronic use of Cannabis can have a range of adverse mental effects, especially on the developing brain.

      Furthermore, in such discussions, we always see people trotting out that perennial hoary old twist of logic that just because we already have various harmful substances that are legal, this justifies officially sanctioning one more!

      • D Carthew

        Sorry Ron it is not about a perrenial hoary of sanctioning one more. It is about the historical wrong of banning cannabis in the first instance. There is indisputable evidence that alcohol causes more damage to you than cannabis and alcohol is the gateway drug to cannabis. Ask any emergency ward doctor or nurse about how many admissions they get each weekend of people drunk out of their skulls who then die vs people who are stoned on cannabis and die. Just saying.

        • Ron Batagol

          Thanks guys-It is great to consider all aspects of a complex issue such as this.(though I have to say that I’m always wary every time the Greens come up with “health solutions” in a forlorn attempt to stem the tide of political relevance deprivation syndrome)-but back to the topic!

          IMHO, however you label it, and without drawing up a competetive league table of the relative harms of the various recreational substances, legally “ legitimising” Cannabis doesn’t pass the “pub test”.
          It can only give the impression to many out in the community of relative safety in regular use, even at low levels. However we know from obstetrics and breastfeeding, and work in children that continuous Cannabis absorption can have potential harmful effects on brain function.
          We know, young people will still find supplies whatever we do, and certainly, for safety reasons, as far as driving is concerned, we need to, in any case, leave Cannabis within the category of substances tested for “driving under the influence of drugs”.

          • Elizabeth Pallett

            The only reason the Greens opened their mouths is because they are on a hiding to nothing come the next state election. This is not their idea, this is the public demand.

      • Jarrod McMaugh

        At the moment, the only way to purchase cannabis is from people who are – by definition – committing a criminal act. There is little incentive for these people to be diligent in who their clients are.

        Legalisation isn’t about sanctioning use – to continue the comparison with alcohol, no government could be said to be sanctioning alcohol use just because they regulate & tax it.

        Legalisation allows for regulation & taxation. It creates a far more structured environment that significantly impacts thr potential for harm.

        Tobacco, gambling, alcohol are all readily available to teenagers now. So is cannabis. Legalisation doesn’t suddenly make it more accessible, but it would impact stigma and the likelihood that people will access treatment if needed.

        There’s also the significant impact on social determinants caused by the criminality of using or posessing cannabis, which directly impact health. Perhaps a bit cocplex to.discuss here….

        • Elizabeth Pallett

          We are very careful who we supply to and the products we supply, please stop making assumptions.

          • Jarrod McMaugh

            Elizabeth, stop being defensive.

            I said there is little incentive for people to be diligent in who they sell to – this is not the same as saying that no one is careful who they sell to.

            From your responses, it seems you sell cannabis. Tell me, should people base their perceptions of cannabis sellers on your practice, or are you relatively unique compared to the majority of people who sell it?

      • Elizabeth Pallett

        Would you like to provide some proof of your claims and I will provide the proof of its ability to protect and mend. The only things that need to be concerned with cannabis are spineless parasites anything with a spine can only benefit. It does not cause any illness mental or physical it protects at all times, if grown organically and not sexed.

  2. Willy the chemist

    I think both sides of the arguments have validity.

    If the situation were to be reversed, alcohol & tobacco probably won’t be legalised today. And the public is desensitised by the harm of ongoing alcohol & tobacco. Why, it’s probably also got something to do with the alcohol & tobacco industry lobbying governments around the world.

    However law makers and academics have got to realise that cannabis can have serious mental health consequences incl. psychoses even years later. It can also be a “gateway”. Just because we have prescription codeine or opiates doesn’t mean that we do not have the illicit drug underbelly problem?

    Points to consider:
    1. Decriminalise cannabis on personal use.
    2. Continue to criminalise the illicit sale, trade, importation, cultivation etc of cannabis.
    3. Not sure about legitimising recreational cannabis because it sends the wrong message; that this is safe.
    Legalising recreational cannabis will open the door to people who may not use it otherwise.
    Legislating drugs isn’t just about the users but also about the impact it has upon the general population. If it results in more people who normally would not be using it start to use it, then it is a bad law.

    Outcomes; what is the evidence of US, Spain and Uruguay? And what transpired these countries to legitimise them in the first place?
    And what of countries with the complete opposite?, eg. Singapore
    (I know, I’ll get heckled for bring this up.)
    But if we are serious about reducing harm, we owe ourselves some honesty and dispense with deep seated biases.

    However if for example, cannabis is available from pharmacies, only for confirmed existing users? That is, you cannot be a new user? How does one legislate this?

    • Elizabeth Pallett

      End prohibition, remove from the schedule and treat like grape vines under law.

  3. Andrew

    A couple of points;

    – There’s no such thing as a gateway drug. The gateway theory has been debunked every decade since the 1930’s.
    – Cannabis in Australia is THC-dominant with very low levels of CBD. The problem with this is that the effects of THC are not attenuated by accompanying CBD, leading to a more psychotogenic product. See reference – Proposed regulations (including Canada) aim to enforce a maximum THC level to mitigate the psychotogenic properties of product. Keeping it illegal and unregulated ensures ongoing supply of the most risky form, not to mention the other adulterants.
    – It’s early days but there doesn’t seem to be any clear evidence of increased use (any age group), traffic accidents, psychiatric diagnoses, or any of the other expected problems in US and Canadian studies. This is backed by the NDARC who reiterated this on radio interviews (ABC/Macquarie Radio) yesterday.
    – 70 years of policing has done nothing to prevent 50% of the Australian population from using it (lifetime incidence – NDARC).
    – It’s the least-worst of the illicit drugs and has good evidence to show that people move from significantly more harmful drugs to cannabis when it is made available. 25% reduction in opiate prescriptions, similar drops for benzos, across the board in “legal” states in the US. “Should we introduce yet another drug?” – yes, absolutely! When some people prefer weed over other potentially lethal or highly antisocial options, how can you argue against that?
    – 25% reduction in suicides of young men in legal states.
    – 75,000 cannabis-related arrests per year in Australia. Is this a good allocation of resources?

    • Elizabeth Pallett

      Not all grow Cannabis to produce high THC, some of us grow to get more than one cannabinoid or even two, we get a broad spectrum of cannabinoids in our plants because we do not sex them. Its the removal of the male that causes the high THC not the natural strain or variety. By the way THC causes no more harm than CBD alone causes, what they cause when on their own is an imbalance both in the plant and in the body, however we need both CBD and THC one without the other does not work, its all about balance not about eliminating either, if you want whole health.

Leave a reply