The state government of Victoria in Australia has introduced legislation into Parliament today that, once passed, will enable legal access to medicinal cannabis in exceptional circumstances.
The Access to Medicinal Cannabis Bill 2015 will also provide the necessary framework to allow the beginning of cultivation and manufacturing of medical marijuana products in the state.
Minister for Health, Jill Hennessy is a strong supporter of cannabis based therapies.
“I have seen first-hand how medicinal cannabis can change people’s lives – our legislation will mean families can legally access this life-saving treatment as soon as possible,” said the Minister.
“These laws will mean families will no longer have to choose between breaking the law and watching their children suffer.”
It’s understood the first to benefit from the legislation will be children with severe epilepsy; but not until 2017.
Overseeing the licensing of growers and cultivation trials will be the Department of Economic Development, Jobs, Transport and Resources. The Office of Medicinal Cannabis will be set up to regulate the manufacturing and dispensing aspects as well as supporting new research. Also to be created is an independent medical advisory committee.
“Our legislation will deliver supply for patients in the first instance, and also provide us with important information to support and facilitate the development of cultivation of medicinal cannabis in Victoria,” said Minister for Agriculture, Jaala Pulford.
The legislation reflects the Victorian Law Reform’s Commission Report on Medicinal Cannabis, which included 42 recommendations for changes to the law to enable the medications to be administered in exceptional circumstances.
Among the recommendations, the Commission advised medical marijuana should not be able to be smoked; but provided as tinctures, oils, capsules, sprays and liquids for vaporising. The Commission also advised against permitting growing of cannabis by patients and that it should not be legalised for wide medicinal use or general use.
The full report from the Commission can be viewed here (PDF).
Earlier this month, the Australian Federal Government announced local cultivation of marijuana for medicinal or scientific purposes will be carried out under uniform guidelines across the country.
A recent survey found 91% Australian support the legalising of marijuana for therapeutic purposes.