The government of Australia over the weekend allowed for the legal cultivation of medical cannabis, enabling fledgling cannabis growers to apply for licenses to grow the herb.
How did the change happen?
The change came about after a new law, titled The Narcotic Drugs Amendment Act of 2016 , took effect on Sunday.
Australian Minister for Health Sussan Ley issued a statement praising the government’s action, saying that it would be an important step forward for the country’s medical practitioners and patients.
It is important that doctors have a wider range of options for treating their patients… Until now, it has been difficult for patients to access medicinal cannabis products from overseas sources.
The amendment establishes a regulatory scheme in which state inspectors will provide guidance, monitoring, and inspection to those with licenses to grow cannabis for medicinal and research purposes. It also allows individual Australian states to determine whether they would like to allow for cannabis cultivation.
Despite her encouragement on the issue, Minister Ley was nonetheless quick to point out that the new framework still does not decriminalize the use of recreational cannabis.
Those who wish to apply for licenses to grow cannabis must first pass a security test, as well as other requirements.
Australia legalized medical cannabis in February of this year. Health Minister Ley lauded the Australian Parliament’s passage of the legalization measure, calling it,
…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.
How is it shaping up?
Australian states have thus far indicated that they will take varying approaches to the cultivation of cannabis.
The northeastern state of Queensland, for example, after March 2017 will allow for medical cannabis to be prescribed by specialists to those suffering from certain debilitating or life-threatening illnesses, such as HIV/AIDS, epilepsy, and multiple sclerosis.
The state will not require that patients be above a certain age to obtain the substance, though patients will be required to prove that medical cannabis would be beneficial to their health.
In the central-eastern state of New South Wales, only adults will be able to receive the substance for medicinal reasons and only for end-of-life purposes.