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 That is the definition of a law that is out of date.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.
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Marijuana is commonly used for medicinal purposes on Tasmania, the island state in the Commonwealth of Australia. Last week, an interim parliamentary report recommended that the use of medical marijuana be decriminalized immediately. Today, that request has already been rejected by parliament.
A government committee, lead by chairwoman Ruth Forrest, had been investigating medical marijuana use in the state since July so that an accurate report could be presented to parliament. Over the course of three days, twenty-three different testimonies were heard on the matter from current users and field experts. Seventy-seven patient submissions were also received by the committee during this time. The committee concluded that current laws no longer agree with what the people believe. The people want to at least decriminalize the medicinal use of cannabis.
The committee’s recommendation for immediate, compassionate, action was submitted just one week ago. The committee found that marijuana was used widely throughout the island to control epilepsy and other conditions as well as to treat pain and nausea. The report recommends decriminalizing the use of medical marijuana so that those using the plant medicinally do not not add possible prosecution their suffering. The report also recommended establishing legislative action to legalize a personal cultivation and caregiver program for the island state.
The government has decided not to move forward with immediate legislative action as recommended by the committee. Michael Ferguson, the state’s health minister, stated that legislation will not be updated at this time. However, parliament did agree to look into the matter. The investigative committee intends to continue building a case through hearing and recording testimony from patients and medical experts.
photo credit: Daily News