The medicinal cannabis industry has secured a direct route into the heart of Federal politics in a move that could accelerate awareness of the sector among decision-makers in Canberra.

The formation of a Parliamentary Friends of Medicinal Cannabis Group will provide the industry with a non-partisan forum to consult with and discuss the needs and challenges of the sector.

Nearly 30 MPs and Senators have joined the group which is being spearheaded by MPs Dr Mike Freelander and Dr Andrew Laming.

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The Parliamentary Friends of Medicinal Cannabis will give the industry a direct voice into the heart of Canberra

The development of a formal body will enable companies operating in the sector, medical experts and patient advocates to step up their lobbying, raise awareness of the benefits of medicinal cannabis and more rapidly spread the word among parliamentarians.

The Medicinal Cannabis Industry Australia (MCIA), which helped establish the Parliamentary Friends group, said it will play “an important role in improving education and public awareness of medicinal cannabis across the community”.

“We’ve been careful from day one to have a measured voice with politicians, and not to be seen as hectoring or badgering,” MCIA chairman Peter Crock told Cannabiz. “We want to show we can add value to them, and the Parliamentary Friends Group is a great result in terms of showing we’ve got the ear of key politicians and bringing them together and pointing them in the right direction with the right information.

“This group will serve as a vessel to raise awareness about the applications and benefits of medicinal cannabis in our society.”

Dr mike freelander mp

“This group is an important forum for parliamentarians to learn about the benefits of medicinal cannabis and to further the growth of this important industry that has potential to positively contribute to health and economic outcomes for the community.

“Improving the awareness and understanding of medicinal cannabis will help promote change in attitudes to medicinal cannabis, particularly among healthcare practitioners.”

To achieve a sustainable industry that “contributes to patient wellbeing and the economy”, further progress is needed, Crock said.

That will involve streamlining regulation, investment in education and providing patient subsidies.

“MCIA looks forward to the opportunity to engage with this group for the benefit of all Australians,” he said.

Liberal National Party MP Dr Laming, who represents the Queensland division of Bowman, said: “This group ensures the Federal Parliament keeps a singular focus in facilitating the medicinal cannabis sector.

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Dr Andrew Laming: Group will ensure a ‘singular focus’ in Canberra

“I look forward to engaging with parliamentary colleagues and health professionals to increase awareness of medicinal cannabis to Australians.”

Labour MP Dr Mike Freelander, a paediatrician from Macarthur in NSW, added: “It is fantastic to see that we now have such broad support for medicinal cannabis in the Commonwealth Parliament.

“We need to have a bipartisan approach to funding for research into the applications for medicinal cannabis and its efficacy in many conditions such as epilepsy, cancer medicine and neurological disorders.

“This group will serve as a vessel to raise awareness about the applications and benefits of medicinal cannabis in our society,” said Dr Freelander.

It is anticipated that the first event to be held for the group will be later in the parliamentary sitting year.

Members of the Parliamentary Friends of Medicinal Cannabis

Dr Mike Freelander, Macarthur – Co-convenor

Dr Andrew Laming MP, Bowman – Co-convenor

Hon Sharon Bird MP, Cunningham

Josh Burns MP, Macnamara

Senator Carol Brown, Tasmania

Senator Catryna Bilyk, Tasmania

Brian Mitchell MP, Lyons

Hon Joel Fitzgibbon MP, Hunter

Hon Warren Entsch MP, Leichardt

Hon Dr John McVeigh, Groom

Hon Dr Andrew Leigh, Fenner

Ross Vasta MP, Bonner

Ted O’Brien MP, Fairfax

Hon David Gillespie MP, Lyne

Hon Warren Snowdon MP, Lingiari

Senator Anne Urquhart, Tasmania

George Christensen MP, Dawson

Senator Malcolm Roberts, Queensland

Steve Georganas MP, Adelaide

Senator Helen Polley, Tasmania

Luke Gosling OAM MP, Solomon

Hon Chris Bowen MP, McMahon

Susan Templeman MP, Macquarie

Michelle Landry MP, Capricornia

Dr Helen Haines MP, Indi

Maria Vamvakinou MP, Calwell

Hon Damien Drum MP, Nicholls

Senator Louise Pratt, Western Australia

Senator the Hon Richard Colbeck, Tasmania

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