The Australian state of Victoria has legalised access to medical cannabis – but it will only be available in exceptional circumstances (for now) and not right away.
The Access to Medicinal Cannabis Bill 2015, introduced in December last year, passed state Parliament yesterday, paving the way for children with severe epilepsy to be the first to have access to medicines from early next year.
Eligible children will be those who have had other forms of treatment that have not worked. In an article last year, The Age stated around 450 children could initially benefit.
“It is absolutely heart-breaking to see families having to choose between breaking the law and watching their children suffer – and now, thanks to our ground-breaking legislation, they won’t have to,” said Minister for Health Jill Hennessy.
The Minister also expressed her appreciation to those who helped bring this to fruition.
“Huge thanks to everyone who has worked so hard on what will be a life-changing reform for so many Victorians,” she posted on her Facebook page.
The Office of Medicinal Cannabis will now be set up to regulate cultivation, manufacturing, liaise with clinicians, doctors and general practitioners and work with patients and families. An independent medical advisory committee will also be established to determine products that should be made available, examine the possibility of expanding patient eligibility and other clinical matters.
None of the approved products will be designed to be smoked, rather they will be in tincture, oil, capsule and spray form.
“We are on track to deliver on our promise to make medicinal cannabis available to Victorian patients in exceptional circumstances, with the first cultivation trial about to get underway,” said Minister for Agriculture Jaala Pulford; without revealing the location.
The Victorian legislation will permit appropriately licenced private parties to cultivate and manufacture medicinal cannabis in the future.
As for more light reading regarding the who, what, when and where; details are available in the 149-page tome, Access to Medicinal Cannabis Bill 2015.
While many may be disappointed in the time frame and very narrow eligibility, Victoria’s move is certainly a step in the right direction.