Hi Prime Time Readers! Alice here. I am currently in Australia attending several health and/or cannabis-focused conferences. Here are some initial takeaways for the beginning of my travels.

Medical cannabis is legal in Australia … but few people are getting it. That’s what I learned during a fascinating all-day conference sponsored by the New South Wales Nurses & Midwives Association (NSWNMA) in Newcastle, Australia. The conference was entitled “Medicinal Cannabis: Debunking the Myths” and the biggest myth that was debunked is that of availability to cannabis.  Speaker Justin Sinclair, a research fellow at Western Sydney University, estimated that a minimum of 200,000 patients would like access to medical cannabis but only 1,000 have been approved and there are only 40 authorized prescribers. Australia does not yet have an operational growing program so patients must import from other nations. The cost can be exorbitant, up to $40,000 a year in some cases. Lucy Haslam, the tireless Australian advocate, calls the current program “criminal” and is highly critical of the existing program. “I used to feel proud of the change we had achieved,” she said, speaking of just two years ago when the Australian parliament changed the federal law and legalized medical cannabis. The law was named after Lucy’s son, Dan, who died of bowel cancer in 2015. Now, Lucy says, “Australia has some of the worse legislation in the world.”

The NSWNMA has been at the forefront of nursing education with regard to medical cannabis. This is their fourth conference and, at ninety attendees, the best attended.

More to come soon.

-Alice