An anti-drugs lobby group has told the Legislative Assembly that medical marijuana could act as a "Trojan horse" for illegal drug use in the ACT and any change to current laws could prompt an increase in addiction.
Drug Free Australia representatives Gary Christian and Ross Colquhoun are scheduled to give evidence on Tuesday to a public hearing considering a medical cannabis scheme proposed by Greens Minister Shane Rattenbury.
The lobby group's 125-page submission to the inquiry outlines domestic and international evidence that is critical of medical cannabis schemes and says reform is not needed in Australia because some patients already have access to legal synthetic cannabinoid drugs.
Drug Free Australia is affiliated with conservative organisations including the Australian Family Association and Melbourne-based Christian ethics group Salt Shakers. Political campaign group the Australian Christian Lobby has linked to its materials online.
Drug Free Australia's website names Australian tennis great Margaret Court as the group's patron. The and evangelical pastor attracted criticism in 2012 for her vocal criticism of gay rights and same sex marriage.
In a submission to the assembly inquiry, Drug Free Australia outlined seven primary objections to medical cannabis use in the ACT, including arguing that the "medical establishment" did not support reform and the current push had come from "drug legalisation lobbyists".
The group calls cancer patient and campaigner Dan Haslam a "media-showcase". Mr Haslam, who used cannabis to manage pain from terminal bowel cancer, died in February after helping convince New South Wales Premier Mike Baird to pursue a medical cannabis trial.
Arguing medical marijuana is a "misnomer", the group cites a 2012 study from the United States that found medical marijuana use by teenagers in drug treatment programs was common and policy changes were needed to stop access to drugs by teenagers from registered users.
"The Greens' bill does not recognise that it is legislating trafficable quantities of cannabis," the submission said.
"Just one single cannabis plant, harvested up to five times a year, can yield 2500 grams of cannabis per year, enough for 8600 joints – far beyond the needs of any single patient. As such, even a single cannabis plant represents trafficable quantities of cannabis."
The source of the figures is linked to data from the 1970s and the 1990s.
Drug Free Australia also argued the harms of recreational cannabis use are so substantial that "any leeway to Trojan horse strategies of the drug legalisation lobby should never be contemplated".
"The Greens' bill, simply by proposing the availability of crude cannabis in any form, clearly ignores the damage done by cannabis to users and their community," the submission said.
The submission questions a household survey of 24,000 people which found 90 per cent of participants opposed recreational cannabis, but 69 per cent supported cannabis for medical use.
"Drug Free Australia contends that very few of these Australians would be able to specify the handful of medical indications attributed to cannabis, and would likely disapprove anything which would proliferate recreational cannabis use."
The proposed scheme would allow terminally and chronically ill Canberrans to grow cannabis and use the drug as part of their treatment.
Mr Rattenbury's proposal, outlined in an exposure draft released last year, would see sufferers of terminal and chronic illness apply to the ACT Chief Health Officer for approval to possess and use cannabis. Patients using cannabis and oils, often illegally, report relief from pain and suffering, including nausea.
The assembly's Health, Ageing, Community and Social Services Committee is due to report by the end of June.
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