Medical cannabis has been legalized in Australia after Parliament approved an amendment to the Narcotic Drugs Act of 1967.
Susan Ley, Australia’s Minister of Health announced in a statement,
“This is an historic day for Australia and the many advocates who have fought long and hard to challenge the stigma around medicinal cannabis products so genuine patients are no longer treated as criminals.”
Cannabis, whether to be used medicinally by patients or for research purposes, may now be grown legally within the country under the new law. Previously, the importation of cannabis products were permitted for medicinal use only.
“This is the missing piece in a patient’s treatment journey and will now see seamless access to locally-produced medicinal cannabis products from farm to pharmacy,”
continued Ley in her statement.
The new amendment allows for two different medical marijuana cultivation licenses. One license will regulate those growing cannabis to be used medicinally by patients, and the other will allow facilities to grow plants for research and studies.
The governing body of each Australian state and territory will be responsible for establishing and enforcing their own medical cannabis regulations, but the Secretary of the Department of Health will reserve the right to destroy plants at any time.
A poll, conducted by Roy Morgan Research in Australia, found that a super majority of Australians support the medicinal use of cannabis, with only 7 percent of participants being opposed. Roy Morgan Research has been asking Australian citizens about marijuana legalization for years, and noted that support for the plant has increased significantly over the course of the last decade.
The most recent poll asked young and old Australians alike: “In your opinion should the use of marijuana for medicinal purposes be made legal or remain illegal?” A majority 91 percent of participants responded that they supported the use of marijuana for medical purposes. The strongest support came from participants aged 50 and older.
Michele Levine, the CEO of Roy Morgan Research, proclaimed that it was not surprising the 50+ age group were the strongest supporters of legalization, with 94 percent of the participating seniors in favor.
“This group is most susceptible to several of the conditions that medicinal marijuana can provide relief from: Parkinson’s disease, cancer, glaucoma and more,”
said Levine when commenting on the poll.
Results also indicated that participants between the ages of 14 to 24 were the least likely to support the use of recreational marijuana, but even so, 85 percent of that group agreed cannabis should be available for medical use. With two percent total of those polled responding as being “unsure” regarding legalization, only 7 percent of those surveyed by Ron Morgan Research were opposed to the plant being made legal for any medicinal purpose.
Although there are some who disregard cannabis as a medical tool, Australian federal health minister, Sussan Ley, announced earlier this month that she is asking for parliamentary support to amend the Australian Narcotics Drugs Act of 1967. This would be a tremendous step in the direction of medical marijuana legalization in Australia.
Senators across Australia are readying to heavily endorse a bill that would make medical marijuana legal in the country.
Headed by Greens Leader Richard Di Natale, a committee encompassing Coalition, Labor and crossbench senators will lend its support to the Regulator of Medical Cannabis Bill. If passed, the bill would make Australia’s government responsible for overseeing the production, sale and use of medical cannabis within the country’s borders.
First presented to Parliament last November, the bill was then forwarded to a committee for further review in February of 2015. A series of nationwide public hearings followed that garnered nearly 200 public submissions, and the committee is now prepping to release its report and findings in August. Committee members are expected to strongly endorse the bill despite protest from the Australian Department of Health.
In its correspondence with the committee, the health department expressed concern that this new system was not particularly comprehensive in explaining how certain aspects of the industry would be handled, and that its passage would create unnecessary “complexity and uncertainty.”
The department also cited concerns about how the bill may cause additional issues, as it may be inconsistent with existing acts including the Therapeutic Goods Act and the Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs.
Some bill supporters believe the concerns expressed have been raised simply because the health department is opposed to the idea of an independent regulator over which it has no control.
Senator Richard Di Natale
While Senator Di Natale acknowledged that opposition to the bill exists, he stated that this independent regulator is necessary because the Therapeutic Goods Administration is specific to the pharmaceutical industry and is not prepared to properly monitor and regulate herbal medicine. He also said that while there are certainly some hurdles ahead, none of them are too large to overcome.
A recent survey indicates that Australians are ready for the legalization of medical marijuana. Conducted by Palliative Care for Australia, the survey indicated that more than two-thirds of Australians support legal cannabis for medicinal purposes, while only 9 percent oppose it.
Among those supporting the legalization of medical marijuana is Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott, who said:
“I have no problem with the medical use of cannabis just as I have no problem with the medical use of opiates.”
The committee’s report is expected to be released Aug. 10, 2015.
photo credit: richard-di-natale.greensmps.org
Recently, it was revealed that a young Australian company called AusCann Group Holdings is set to grow and export medicinal cannabis to Canada from Norfolk Island, an Australian territory that recently lost the right to self governance.
This landmark announcement comes just after the approval of new government legislation that will replace Norfolk’s independent parliament with a local council. Although some argue that Queen Elizabeth granted the territory independence and therefor this should not be possible, islanders will be governed under the Australian welfare and taxation system by the end of June 2015.
AusCann Group Holdings is actually the second company to gain approval for a cannabis-growing business on Norfolk Island, but the first group’s deal was overturned because of concerns over a lack of safety and security.
AusCann, however, has reportedly combated these concerns with solid plans for security and safety in crop containment and cultivation. The private enterprise enlisted the help of Lockforce International, a multinational security firm to ensure all possible concerns have been addressed. Additionally, the island’s natural barriers will help keep crops safe.
Norfolk’s health minister and other community leaders are working with AusCann to monitor cannabis growth and enforce adequate security standards. Many of the island’s inhabitants are excited to work with the new company because of job prospects and projected economic growth. As Elaine Darby, the managing director of AusCann explained:
“This Australian-first project has the full support of the Norfolk Island community and is expected to generate much-needed revenues via an export fee and employment.”
AusCann intends to ship one ton of high-quality sativa strains to Canada in its first year and as much as 10 tons by 2018. This new multi-million dollar export stands to greatly benefit the community on an economic level while benefiting Canadians on a holistic one.
To ensure top quality product is cultivated, AusCann hired a world-renowned medical cannabis breeder named Nevil Schoenmakers. With the colorful history of a man who knows what he’s doing, Schoenmakers is well known in medical cannabis circles as a skilled grower and guru. The company has a business plan that centers on world-class operations. Completely compliant with United Nations and Australian regulations, AusCann stands to make great contributions to medical cannabis and the local economy.
At the moment, the company will remain private. AusCann has 26 shareholders, but it will consider moving into the public sphere at the end of the year. Australia is now set to add a new profitable cash crop to its list of exports, and locals hope this will expedite the legalization of medicinal marijuana in their own country as well.
Victoria, Australia | A new bill that could legalize medical marijuana in the south eastern coastal state of Victoria will likely be introduced before the end of the year. On Friday, Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews said that the Victorian Law Reform Commission had been asked to submit a report by August of next year to determine when medical marijuana laws should change. The laws would allow people suffering from terminal illnesses and chronic, debilitating diseases to access marijuana.
Premier Andrews said, “It is my hope to have the bills into Victorian parliament before the end of the year.”
Andrews does not expect any pushback from the Upper House and feels that community supporters and medical experts will likely push the measure through without opposition.
Andrews spoke outside the home of Cassie Batten and Cooper Wallace at a press conference on Friday. Cassie, mother of Cooper, had previously been arrested for admitting in a television interview that she gave her epileptic son medical marijuana. Charges against the Victorian mother were later dropped, which prompted action to legalize marijuana for it’s medicinal merits.
At the press conference, Andrews said, “No parent should ever have to make a choice between saving their child and obeying the law. That is the definition of a law that is out of date. That is the definition of an area of our law that needs to be reformed and improved for the future.”
Marijuana will remain illegal for recreational use in the Australian state, and medical marijuana will only be made available in small quantities. Access to medical marijuana will be granted to patients suffering from Cancer, Multiple Sclerosis, AIDS, Glaucoma, and Parkinson’s Disease.
Photo Credit: TheAge.com