The Australian Parliament passed a measure Wednesday legalizing medical marijuana.
The amendments to the Narcotic Drugs Act will allow cannabis to be legally grown for medical and scientific purposes for the first time in Australia.
So How Will Australia’s New Medical Marijuana System Work?
Up until this point, The Commonwealth had laws in place that permitted the importation of raw cannabis material into Australia for medicinal purposes but cultivation of the plant wasn’t allowed. As the new bill explains, “the manufacturing provisions in the Narcotic Drugs Act 1967 are considered inadequate to properly manage the risks associated with the potential for diversion of medicinal cannabis products and other narcotic drugs.”
“This is the missing piece in a patient’s treatment journey and will now see seamless access to locally-produced medicinal cannabis products from farm to pharmacy.”
The cultivation, production and manufacturing process will be regulated by a state or territory government agency. However, according to the new bill, there’s little to no change to Australia’s strict international obligations to drug safety, which means the process will be tightly controlled. “As a signatory to the Single Convention, Australia agrees that the licit use of narcotic drugs must be tightly regulated to ensure that public health is protected from the risks of diversion into illicit markets.”
Additionally, the Secretary of the Department of Health now has the power to order the destruction of cannabis produced by a license holder, granting the Secretary the ability to control the supply and demand in the hopes of preventing unnecessary accumulation.
There will be two separate types of medical cannabis licenses available under the new bill. The first license type authorizes the cultivation of cannabis to be manufactured into medicinal cannabis products. The second license type authorizes the research of medical cannabis and its potential uses.
MMJ Legalization Spurred by Passing of Daniel Haslam
The decision to legalize medical marijuana in Australia came exactly a year after 25-year-old Daniel Haslam lost his life to terminal bowel cancer. Haslam used medical marijuana to ease his pain and nausea before he passed away last February.
Daniel’s mother, Lucy Haslam, started a medical cannabis advocacy group called United in Compassion and has continued to petitione for the Australian government to make the cannabis plant legal.
Australian Sen. Richard Di Natale brought up Haslam’s story before Parliament on Wednesday. “It is incredibly fitting that today we are passing this bill which is one step towards making medicinal cannabis accessible to people like Dan,” Di Natale said to a room full of anxious eyes.
“This is an historic day for Australia and the many advocates who have fought long and hard to challenge the stigma around medicinal cannabis products so genuine patients are no longer treated as criminals,” Minister for Health Sussan Ley said in a statement.
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