The Australian Capital Territory’s Assistant Health Minister has announced it will join other states in establishing a medical cannabis scheme.
According to a press release, the decision follows Australia’s Therapeutic Goods Administration recent move to reschedule cannabis from schedule 9 to schedule 8; changing it from a prohibited substance to a controlled drug.
“Establishing a Medicinal Cannabis Scheme in the ACT is a priority for the ACT Government, but we need to do it in a way that is evidence-based and that supports people when they are at their most vulnerable,” said Assistant Health Minister Meegan Fitzharris.
“Now the Commonwealth has acted, we can establish a scheme in the ACT that will treat medicinal cannabis products in the same manner as we treat other medicines.”
While medical cannabis will be made available, it doesn’t appear the Territory will be starting cultivating the crop within its borders, due to limited available and appropriate land.
However, Ms. Fitzharris says one of the ACT’s strengths is research. An example is the recent partnership between the University of Canberra and Cann Pharmaceutical that will see a medical cannabis therapy trial for the treatment of melanoma.
““We already have some of the best medical researchers in the country based at our local institutions and advancing research on the efficacy of medicinal cannabis to treat a range of illnesses and conditions presents another opportunity to support cutting edge research in Canberra and showcase our city as the research capital of Australia,” said the Assistant Minister.
Ms. Fitzharris says two expert advisory committees will first be appointed to advise on the structure of the scheme, and the scheme itself is expected to be operating some time next year.
The Medicinal Cannabis Medical Advisory Panel will advise on the development of clinical guidelines and regulations, while the Medicinal Cannabis Advisory Group will consult on related economic, legal and social issues.
The ACT Government will then develop guidelines to support medical practitioners and develop education materials for clinicians and the general public. One complication the ACT says it won’t face is needing to change legislation.
The ACT will join Victoria, Queensland and New South Wales in legalizing medical marijuana.
While the situation in Australia is changing quickly, it’s not fast enough for those who are suffering and who could benefit from access to cannabis medicines. Still, the wheels are turning – and it was only a few years ago they were still rusted in place.
The full text of the ACT Government press release can be viewed here.