Ferguson defends stand

HEALTH Minister Michael Ferguson

HEALTH Minister Michael Ferguson

HEALTH Minister Michael Ferguson yesterday said he opposed a medicinal cannabis proposal from Tasman Health Cannabinoids because of concerns about health, safety and security.

The company was last week given the go-ahead from Norfolk Island to run a medicinal cannabis trial.

Included in Tasman Health Cannabinois’ proposal was a request to grow a commercial crop for export to Canada, where the drug is legal for medical purposes only.

Mr Ferguson said he could not agree with exporting a product not legal in Australia, particularly given only dried cannabis was allowed in the country.

‘‘This is a complex and serious issue, and unlike Labor and the Greens, the Liberal Government is not prepared to put the cart before the horse and potentially compromise the health and safety of Tasmanians,’’ he said.

‘‘This is a complex area and it requires research and evidence.

‘‘Rather than blowing with the wind and taking cheap political shots, I suggest that Labor constructively engages with the inquiry ... if medicinal cannabis is the panacea to Tasmania’s economy that Labor now claims, why did they do nothing in this area for the 16 years they were in government.’’

Shadow attorney-general Lara Giddings accused the government of diverting from the issue and said she believed the only medicinal cannabis proposal her government had received was that of the Tasman Health Cannabinoids.

The proposal, which included a request for export to Canada, received written support from former Health Minister Michelle O’Byrne.

‘‘Unless the company is going to pay for the trial then this company needs to be able to raise some funds,’’ Ms Giddings said.

‘‘We don’t have a problem with the export of that material to Canada ... we ought to be getting on with allowing this trial to happen.’’

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