Mr WHETSTONE (Chaffey) (11:40): I rise to support the member for Mount Gambier's motion. It is an important motion. Medical cannabis is playing a much more significant role in medical treatment of people on a day-to-day basis. We know that patients can legally access medical cannabis through prescription, and there are 600,000 Australians who are currently using cannabis for medical purposes; however, only 4 per cent is obtained by prescription.
It does tell you that the sooner we have it regulated, and the sooner that we get what is probably one of the most highly regulated medical aids out there for general consumption, it will help us not only expand the research and the trials but bring them into effect. It will provide treatment for those who are suffering from many medical conditions, such as endometriosis, Alzheimer's, Parkinson's and particularly for chronic pain, which medical cannabis is very good at treating.
I think my message to government would be: do not take away the opportunity for people to have alternative medical treatment through medical cannabis. We know that heavy opioids and other addictive substances can be deemed as unnecessary because of the nature of them. We know that CBD is not addictive or habit-forming in itself, and taking CBD oil is the safest course of getting medical treatment.
I will touch on a facility in the electorate of Chaffey, MedTEC. It is a newly built facility that is moving along quite nicely. It is the only active operation in South Australia. It is waiting for its final permit to bring it into commercial cultivation, one of 12 licences in Australia. It is commercially up and going and it will soon be in full operation, employing about 100 South Australians. It is just a great opportunity. To date, they have invested many millions into that facility, and it is currently working with PIRSA on research work and destroy, permit only.
They are growing the CBD, the THC and industrial hemp for the betterment of those trials. I have been up and had a look, had a visit, and it is quite an eye-opener. The trials are in conjunction with PIRSA, and also the nursery trials that have a licence for cultivation of the THC product. I guess the threshold for the THC is that if it does breach the 1 per cent content of THC it is deemed as a hot product and destroyed straightaway. Of the strains that are being developed in a facility like MedTEC at Renmark, there are 1,800 strains of the CBD or the THC products.
In Australia, 85 per cent of the products that are sold here are imported, mostly from Canada, and so that tells you that there is an opportunity here in South Australia, in particular, to grow something in our own backyard instead of having to import. If you want to be an importer, it takes six to eight weeks to get that importer's licence and import the product to put it on shelves, put it into chemists or put it into what will be dispensaries.
Through my trips internationally, I have visited a number of R&D facilities in Israel. They really are quite an advanced operation. Also, on my most recent trip to the US, I visited a number of dispensaries in California. The amount of marketing and advancement over there really does open the eyes right up to understanding just how progressive this industry is and also what it is doing to provide a non-addictive form of medication. I think in today's world that is becoming very much more needed.
What I would like to say to any government is that it is a highly regulated commodity. There is a significant amount of red tape, but the speculators have been and gone. As I said, MedTEC here in South Australia is a great facility. It is a great opportunity for our economy when it comes to medical cannabis. I would urge that we support an industry that is a great medical breakthrough. It is also a great opportunity for economic advancement in South Australia.
I commend the motion. I commend the opportunities that particularly a medical facility in my electorate is going to advance to South Australia. I must say that, as a partner with Waite and as a partner with SAHMRI, the MedTEC facility will be one of the first and most advanced facilities in Australia. I am really looking forward to that permit being given and understanding what it will mean for South Australia's economy.