Australia has legalised the growth of marijuana for use in research, in the first step towards potentially legalising the drug for patients dealing with painful conditions.
While the drug is currently illegal in Australia, two states?? Are discussing whether to allow people to use it therapeutically.
The bill which the Liberal Party introduced to the country's parliament will change the Narcotics Drugs Act 1967. It looks likely to become law, as the main opposition party has offered its support. It is expected to come into play in March, Quartz reported.
The result will be the creation of a national licensing scheme and permits to supply medical cannabis to patients with painful and chronic conditions on clinical trials.
Health Minister Sussan Ley told Parliament said that the government wanted to enable “Australians suffering from severe conditions” to use “the most effective medical treatments” including marijuana.
“Allowing controlled cultivation locally will provide the critical missing piece for a sustainable legal supply of safe medicinal cannabis products for Australian patients in the future,” he said prior to appearing in parliament.
The government, which operates in a region with some of the strictest drug policies in the world, stressed that the amendment would not break Australia’s international obligations to make sure that the drug is only produced and sold for medical and scientific purposes.
Currently, Australian manufacturers, researchers and patients on clinical trials have had to use international supplies of legal medicinal marijuana – which is made difficult by the costs and export restrictions.
However, it would still be illegal for patients outside of clinical trials and the general public to use the drug if the law passes.
Cannabis around the world
Cannabis around the world
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“The market for medicinal cannabis in Australia is substantial. The number of patients that could be targeted could be people with epilepsy, Multiple sclerosis, while there is the other spectrum of people with chronic pain,” said Gaelan Bloomfield, manager at MMJ PhytoTech Ltd.
Additional reporting by Reuters