Referral of the inquiry
On 12 February 2015, the Senate referred the Regulator of Medicinal
Cannabis Bill 2014 (Bill) to the Senate Legal and Constitutional Affairs
Legislation Committee (committee) for inquiry and report by 21 April 2015.
On 26 March 2015, the Senate agreed to extend the reporting date for
the inquiry to 21 May 2015.
Several further extensions were subsequently granted by the Senate, with the
final reporting date being set for 11 August 2015.
The Bill is a private senator's Bill, introduced by Senator Richard Di
Natale into the Senate on 27 November 2014 and co-sponsored by Senators Di
Natale, Macdonald, Leyonhjelm and Urquhart.
The Bill seeks to establish a new Commonwealth body, the Regulator of Medicinal
Cannabis, with responsibility for regulating the production, transport, storage
and usage of cannabis products for medicinal purposes in Australia.
Conduct of the inquiry
In accordance with usual practice, the committee advertised the inquiry
on its website and wrote to a number of organisations and individual
stakeholders inviting submissions by 13 March 2015. Details of the inquiry were
placed on the committee's website at https://www.aph.gov.au/senate_legalcon.
In total, the committee received 261 submissions to this inquiry. The
public submissions are published on the committee's website and are listed at
A significant number of the submissions received by the committee
contained detailed accounts of individuals' experiences using cannabis products
in Australia to treat a variety of medical conditions. Given the sensitivities
around the usage of medicinal cannabis in Australia, the committee resolved to
withhold from publication the names of any individuals whose submissions
included details of cannabis use in Australia, unless this information was
already on the public record (for example, in newspaper articles or other
Of the submissions received, 50 were 'form letter' submissions in
support of the Bill, with identical or substantially similar wording. For
administrative reasons, the committee resolved not to publish all of these
submissions, but rather a single example on its website.
The committee held three days of public hearings for this inquiry: in
Canberra on 30 March 2015, in Sydney on 31 March 2015, and on 1 April 2015 in
Brisbane. Details of witnesses who gave evidence at the hearing are listed at
The committee thanks those individuals and organisations who made
submissions to the inquiry and appeared as witnesses at the public hearings.
The committee particularly thanks those who courageously shared
their individual stories in relation to medicinal cannabis, many of which
included highly personal accounts of struggles with serious medical conditions
and the reality of trying to access appropriate treatment and care. It is these
individuals who stand to benefit the most from the increased understanding of
both the potential and the limitations of medicinal cannabis that could be
developed through the implementation of a stronger regulatory framework in
Structure of the Report
This report is divided into 5 chapters.
Chapter 2 provides an overview of the background issues relevant to this
inquiry, including: the nature of the cannabis plant and the science relating
to its use in therapeutic contexts; the current regulation of cannabis in
Australia; and examples of international approaches to regulating medicinal
Chapter 3 includes an overview of the Bill and outlines its key
Chapter 4 discusses the key issues raised by submitters and witnesses in
relation to the Bill and the broader issue of regulating medicinal cannabis in
Chapter 5 presents the committee's views and recommendations.
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