Australia Is Moving Forward to Legalize Medicinal Marijuana, Introducing Nationwide Bill
Australia has proceeded in its effort to legalize marijuana for medical research purposes. Australia's Federal Government will soon introduce the legislation on Wednesday, and the new legislation will become law by March. Alongside the legislation, Australia's parliament will also create a licensing program for the plant's cultivation.
Australia's parliament had been proposing a new legislation as amendments to the Narcotics Drugs Act 1967. The new regulations would allow cannabis cultivation through a national licensing and permit scheme as reported by ABC News Australia. That would allow patients with chronic conditions to more easily access medicinal cannabis. Marijuana was proved to have helped people suffering from cancer, multiple sclerosis, HIV/AIDS, epilepsy, and chronic pain.
Health minister Sussan Ley told parliament that the government understands that there are some Australians suffering from severe conditions for which cannabis may help the condition. "We want to enable access to the most effective medical treatments available," she stated.
The marijuana legalization bill was already introduced to the Australian parliament on Wednesday. It's very likely that it would be passed as law because the main opposition party has also shown support for the new legislation. The health minister stated that the bill had support across the chambers and around the country.
However, the health minister did acknowledge that this would be a very complex legislation that it brings together so many different strands of so much at the state and territory level. She noted that in order to make it work, the government needs to consult with relevant law enforcement to protect the integrity of the system.
Quartz reported that previously some Australian states had already pushed forward to legalize cannabis cultivation for medical uses in the region. Victoria has its own bill and in 2015, the state became the first state in Australia to legalize marijuana to treat serious medical conditions. Even though some states already have the regulation that allows marijuana cultivation for medical uses, the health minister believes that a national policy regarding that matter is still necessary. "I am confident creating one single, nationally consistent cultivation scheme, rather than eight individual arrangements, will not only help speed up the legislative and regulatory process but ultimately access to medicinal cannabis products as well," Ley noted.
CTV News noted that in 2013 the Australian government conducted a survey involving 24,000 citizens as respondents. The study concluded that 69 percent of respondents supported an amendment to the law so that cannabis can be cultivated and used for medicinal purposes.
It is likely that the bill proposing cannabis legalization under national licensing would be passed as law due to wide support from the authorities as well as citizens. The government is still processing the bill, and if it indeed is passed, Australians could more easily get access to medicinal marijuana to treat chronic illnesses.