Australia: Qld police charge 66yr disability pensioner using medical cannabis for possession of 1 gram

The Medical Cannabis Users Association of Australia (MCUA) President Deb Lynch and members of the advocacy group are peturbed following police raids carried out on 2 on fellow members in Queensland yesterday.

Early in the day, 66 year old disability pensioner Maggie O’Rance, was raided by police brandishing a search warrant. Police found approx 1 gram of cannabis and a pipe and she was charged for the second time with cannabis offences.

The former nurse who suffers debilitating chronic pain, mobility problems and depression escaped penalty and conviction when she was found guilty of cannabis charges in April this year after pleading not guilty on the grounds of medical necessity with compulsion.

Ms O’Rance who has been trying to get off opioids attempted to get a prescription for cannabis for several months prior to her first arrest in 2018. Her GP refused to prescribe, leaving her with no choice but the black market and home grow for supply.

Since her last run in with authorities, she has tried to get a prescription from her Pain Clinic but was informed, not for the first time,  one month ago that Queensland Health policy would not allow doctors to prescribe medical cannabis. Again she was left with no choice but to break the law to get relief.

“MCUA members were outraged by the news about the raid on Maggie’s home yesterday,” said Ms Lynch and as if that wasn’t bad enough, I received a text message last evening from Dr Deb Waldron, who is a well known and respected cannabis advocate and educator, saying she was in the middle of a police raid at her home.

“These kinds of police actions cost the tax payers thousands of dollars and for what benefit? They are not in the public interest and they need to stop making criminals out of patients” said   Ms Lynch.

Cannabis was made legal for medical use in 2016 and thousands are now being prescribed expensive imported products. Almost half of those are unable to get the scripts filled because they can’t afford the products, which are not covered by the PBS.

Patients have been complaining to their MPs for months that the system in place is broken and is not working for them and an estimated 100,000 are pushed to the black market for products.

Earlier this month a Federal Senate Inquiry was announced. It will examine current barriers to patient access. This has been welcomed by patients, but in the meantime activists believe there should be a moratorium on arrests until the fiasco that the medical cannabis program has become, can be sorted.

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