Medical Cannabis

The Hon. T.A. FRANKS (14:45:50): I seek leave to make a brief explanation before addressing a question to the Minister for Employment, Higher Education and Skills, representing the Premier, on the topic of leadership on medical cannabis.

Leave granted.

The Hon. T.A. FRANKS: Earlier this year I wrote to the Minister for Health to ask him to show leadership on a particular constituent's case: that is the case of the Fulton family, formerly of Victor Harbor. The Victor Harbor family of eight have two daughters, Tabetha, 12, and Georgia-Grace, 8, and those two girls suffer from a rare degenerative diffuse lung disease which prevents their cells from absorbing oxygen properly.

Late last year, Tabetha's condition became so bad she collapsed at school, prompting medical examination that concluded she was toxic due to the amount of steroids she was on and her organs were shutting down. Her parents, Bobby and Marcus, faced a heartbreaking situation. She desperately needed the anti-inflammatories for her lungs and airways but the quantities she needed could kill her. In a desperate bid to save her, her mother secured a two-month supply of cannabis administered as an oil and prepared in a smoothie. Within two weeks of taking this oil, Tabetha experienced a significant turnaround and the side effects of the steroids—including a lump on her neck, weight gain and depression—were decreased. The case was covered in the Victor Harbor Times at the time.

The Fulton family did not want to leave Australia but they felt that they had no alternative so that their daughters could legally start cannabis oil treatment. In July this year the family made that move. I wrote to the Minister for Health at that time, asking should the family be able to be medicated in Canada where medical cannabis is legal, what provisions would this government make for their return? The response I received from the Minister for Health was disappointing to say the least and indicated that South Australia would continue to sit on the sidelines.

What I would like to report to this council and to the Premier is that the family have successfully medicated through the system in Canada where medical cannabis is legal and they have prescriptions for their two girls and the treatment is working effectively. Now this family is living in Canada, waiting to come back to South Australia as medical refugees. I call on the Premier to take urgent action on this particular case to allow the Fulton family to return to South Australia and let those little girls be medicated, as they have been with a prescription in Canada, in this state.

I note that this week, the Premier of Victoria Daniel Andrews has taken leadership on this issue and he has said that it is his proudest day as Premier. I also note that Labor leaders in Tasmania, Queensland and WA have all indicated that they will stop the suffering of their citizens. So, I ask the minister to refer this question to the Premier: when will the Premier of this state stand up and stop making South Australians medical refugees and legalise medical cannabis?

The Hon. G.E. GAGO (Minister for Employment, Higher Education and Skills, Minister for Science and Information Economy, Minister for the Status of Women, Minister for Business Services and Consumers) ( 14:49 :16 ): I thank the honourable member for her most important question and will refer that to the Premier in another place and bring back a response.

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