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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2001 Week 7 Hansard (19 June) . . Page.. 2009 ..

MR WOOD (continuing):

prepared an amendment, but on further examination we accept that 24 hours is a reasonable period. It has been explained that all the paperwork and all the details that need to be done are the same for the seven days that we thought about as for what exists now. So it would not effect any change at all. We indicate that we will watch this. The DPP has indicated that he will look at this, and if any problem emerges in the future, it may then be attended to, but that part of the bill will be supported.

The amendments to be moved by Mr Moore are to deal with the buprenorphine as a treatment for opiate dependency. The range of treatments being proposed is very much in the news these days. Most notably, naltrexone seems to attract a great deal of publicity, but at the same time there has been a deal of study and research of the impact of buprenorphine that has not attracted the same amount of publicity. But it seems to have been quite a successful research process, with the result that these steps can now be taken.

There has been a Commonwealth pharmacotherapy trial. Buprenorphine is part of that. Naltrexone is also being well studied, but we are not debating that today. The results of that trial are yet to be released, but I think the minister tabled some preliminary data a little while ago and the data seems to read pretty well, encouraging this step.

Most particularly, the Therapeutic Goods Administration has already approved buprenorphine for use as a maintenance drug. Given that approval, it seems entirely reasonable for this Assembly to follow suit. The Commonwealth minister has set the pace, if you like, and has authorised a subsidy for this treatment from 1 August. So it is entirely appropriate that this Assembly amend its legislation to add that drug to methadone, which can already be legally prescribed. That is what the amendments will do, and we will be supporting them.

MR RUGENDYKE (11.15): Mr Speaker, I too will be supporting this legislation. My personal experience in the police force was that cannabis exhibits tended to rot. There was a rather unwieldy and unnecessary process of drying and cleaning to preserve the cannabis. The logical step is to pass this legislation to enable the people responsible to verify the substance, to photograph it for evidentiary purposes and to do away it.

I also support the amendments to be moved by Mr Moore this morning. For completeness, it may well have been appropriate to include other treatments that are not opioid based. Perhaps Mr Moore will be able to explain why that is not the case. But this is one step in assisting people who might be helped by buprenorphine.

MS TUCKER (11.16): The Greens will be supporting this bill. In most instances it makes sense to promptly destroy the bulk of samples when it comes to simple cannabis orders. I am sure that the government analyst and the police are not too keen to have marijuana clogging up their storage space.

There is an issue with the length of time that people who are charged, or who may be charged, with an offence have to apply to the Magistrates Court to have seized material preserved. The bill allows those people 24 hours after being served with a notice to advise them of their rights. In some situations, 24 hours simply will not be long enough.

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