One Nation supporters and medicinal cannabis activists are furious after Pauline Hanson's One Nation party blocked a motion that would have allowed easier access to medicinal cannabis for the terminally ill.
The motion to disallow changes – which was introduced by the Greens – would have amended changes made to category A of the Special Access Scheme by then federal health minister Sussan Ley in 2016.
If passed, the legislation would have allowed terminally ill people to fast-track their legal supply of medicinal cannabis. Currently, medicinal cannabis is the only unregistered therapeutic good that patients with life-threatening illnesses are unable to access under the category A provisions that allow for faster access.
On Thursday afternoon parliament voted on the amendment and it was tied 32-32, meaning it was automatically defeated.
During the 2016 federal election, One Nation campaigned heavily on access to medicinal cannabis for the seriously ill.
The apparent U-turn last night has caused an uproar in activist communities, with many feeling betrayed by the party they voted for in July last year.
On Facebook, One Nation's pages have been inundated with angry comments from people fuming about the decision. One Nation candidate for the state seat of Hervey Bay, Damian Huxham, commented on one thread, saying people should "do their home work" on what the Greens legislation would have allowed. "The Greens had 30 years to do something and done nothing [sic]," he wrote.
Steve Peek, who says his eight-year-old daughter, Suli, requires multiple doses of medicinal cannabis a day to stop seizures, believes One Nation has "treated him like an idiot".
The response came after One Nation member Steve Dickson sent a text message out to supporters last night calling the Greens' legislation "cynical". Dickson joined One Nation from the Queensland LNP earlier this year citing the need for easier access to medicinal cannabis as his main reason.
"You have harmed the chances of my daughter getting legal access to medicinal cannabis," said Peek. "If you think it will open the floodgates to massive unregulated access to a clinically unproven treatment why have you told us you have seen the benefits of medicinal cannabis and why would you lobby the Queensland government to get medicinal cannabis on the PBS and lobby for amnesty if this is what you think?"
In a post to her Facebook, Pauline Hanson said that 125 people had been granted access to medicinal cannabis because of One Nation. Medicinal cannabis activists speaking to BuzzFeed News have questioned the claim.
BuzzFeed News has contacted One Nation for comment.
Brad Esposito is a news reporter for BuzzFeed and is based in Sydney, Australia.
Contact Brad Esposito at email@example.com.
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