Former Federal Green Party leader Dr Richard Di Natale has been named as the inaugural chair of the newly established Healthcare Practitioner/Patient Advisory Council.
While functioning as part of the Medicinal Cannabis Industry Association (MCIA), the group will provide independent advice to and engage with the entire Australian medicinal cannabis industry, medical experts, and patient advocates to raise awareness of the applications of medicinal cannabis.
Di Natale will be joined on the council by:
- Professor Jonathan Cebon, Group Head, Cancer Immunobiology Program, Olivia Newton-John Cancer Wellness & Research Centre (ONJCRI), and former Medical Director of ONJCRI
- Adjunct Professor Kylie Ward, CEO, Australian College of Nursing
- Professor Iain McGregor, Academic Director of the Lambert Initiative, University of Sydney
- Associate Professor Vicki Kotsirilos, AM, General Practitioner and Honorary Academic, Adjunct Associate Professor, NICM School of Science and Health, Western Sydney University
- Carol Ireland, CEO and Managing Director, Epilepsy Action Australia
Further members will be announced shortly.
Di Natale said: “This council will ensure there continues to be a strong focus on facilitating patient access to medicinal cannabis. I look forward to engaging with colleagues from the health, research and patient advocacy sectors to increase awareness of medicinal cannabis to Australians and to shape policy to support education and awareness of medicinal cannabis.”
Welcoming Di Natale’s appointment, MCIA chair Peter Crock said: “Richard has been a great champion of medicinal cannabis access for patients and will provide invaluable guidance as chair of this unique and important advisory council.
He added: “This group will be an important forum to ensure that patient access and the healthcare sector remain at the forefront of the medicinal cannabis industry and to facilitate access to this important new medicine that has potential to positively contribute to health outcomes for the community”.
“It is fantastic to see that we now have such broad support for medicinal cannabis in the community, however, there is still considerable work to be done to increase the number of prescribing doctors and make access for patients easier and more affordable.”
Australian Medicinal Cannabis Association (AMCA) chair Lucy Haslam said: “We are delighted to see the establishment of the Healthcare Practitioner/Patient Advisory Council with Dr Richard Di Natale as the inaugural chair, along with other respected individuals in this field representing patients, their healthcare practitioners, advocates and researchers.
Dr Di Natale has been a strong supporter of patient access to medicinal cannabis for many years since advocating for legislative change for people like Dan Haslam in 2014, and to see him continue his advocacy beyond his parliamentary career demonstrates just how committed he continues to be.
We see this council as another step in making real progress towards improving awareness and facilitating patient access to safe and affordable medicinal cannabis for Australian patients.”