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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2015 Week 09 Hansard (Thursday, 13 August 2015) . . Page.. 2817 ..

that to happen. I hope members do find, in perusing this report, some good ways of alleviating some of the concerns around a medicinal cannabis scheme, while also taking particular note of the safeguards that need to be introduced to ensure that it is a safe scheme and that there is not leakage.

That was one of the biggest concerns, raised particularly by the Chief Police Officer, who indicated that there were significant concerns regarding individuals growing and using their own cannabis or acquiring it off the streets from the black market, in that it should be through a controlled process or a controlled supply chain. They are things that we need to be conscious of. There will always be the propensity, when you are dishing out what is a black market substance for medical purposes, as to what the risks might be of that ending up in the wrong hands and being used by those that should not be acquiring it.

Once again I say thanks for the 35 submissions that we received, the witnesses that came before the committee and shared some very personal stories, and also the direction from the committee secretariat, under Nicola Kosseck, in putting together this comprehensive report.

MS FITZHARRIS (Molonglo) (10.15): I join today with my colleagues on the committee and thank all the people who contributed to the discussion of this issue: to Mr Rattenbury in the first instance for his draft bill, to the specialist adviser, Professor Arnold, to all the submitters and witnesses, to my colleagues on the committee, and, of course, as Dr Bourke outlined, to Nicola Kosseck for her fine work in pulling together what I think is a comprehensive and very thoughtful report for the committee.

I valued the opportunity for the committee to inquire into this issue. It is important that we ensure people who are suffering and in pain, especially those nearing the ends of their lives, have access to the services and products they need to ease pain and ease suffering.

I joined this committee at its halfway point, but I was able to be part of all of its hearings and deliberations. I started out very open to this issue and very open to the idea that medicinal cannabis should be accessible to people suffering ongoing and severe pain from their medical conditions, especially those nearing the end of their lives. But I also took into this committee a serious intent, and it is one that I will do throughout my time in this Assembly—that is, to seriously weigh up the issue, to examine its opportunities and risks, to take the wide view and understand what it means in practice to make a significant policy change—in this case legalising medicinal cannabis—and to examine a piece of legislation that enables this policy intent to be realised.

We must look at what it means in practice to develop legislation and regulation that enables such a significant policy change, and we must always have the wellbeing and success of individuals and our community as our core driving principle. This is always, though, a balancing act. As members have noted, this was a hard task. We all learned along the way, and other members of the committee have raised this morning the diversity of views that were presented to us.

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