Cannabis trial goes offshore

THE company pushing for medicinal cannabis trials in Tasmania says it has heard the government’s message loud and clear and will stop pursuing opportunities in the state – unless there is a change in attitude or leadership.

Health Minister Michael Ferguson yesterday spoke strongly against Tasman Health Cannabinoids’ proposal for medicinal cannabis trials in the state after the group was given the green light by Norfolk Island.

Part of that approval will allow the company to grow 1000 kilograms of cannabis for medicinal use to sell to Canada – a clause Mr Ferguson claimed had been a deal-breaker from the state government’s perspective when considering the proposal.

Medicinal cannabis is legal in a number of European countries, as well as Canada.

Tasman Health Cannabinoids chairman Mal Washer said it was clear Mr Ferguson was trying to make up for losing out to Norfolk Island.

He said it would be impossible to complete the expensive medicinal cannabis trials without a source of income.

Dr Washer said he thought medicinal cannabis trials would have been an obvious ‘‘yes’’ from the state government due to its employment and profit-making abilities.

‘‘The first and most important thing is patients have got to come first ... how the hell can we do [trials] if there’s no profit,’’ he said.

Dr Washer agreed with shadow attorney-general Lara Giddings, who argued that Mr Ferguson and State Growth Minister Matthew Groom were letting personal beliefs get in the way of medicinal cannabis trials.

Both Dr Washer and Tasman Health Cannabinoids chief executive  Troy Langman said they were committed to the state but faced many difficulties in making their dream reality.

‘‘We get the message, we’re not welcome,’’ Dr Washer said.

Mr Ferguson said he had viewed the proposal from a health perspective.

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