Legalising cannabis: South Australia ‘well behind best practise’; Legalisation depends on NSW medical marijuana trials

By @ritwikroy1985 on
Cannabis Plantation
A worker harvests cannabis plants at a plantation near the northern town of Nazareth May 28, 2013. Reuters/Amir Cohen

After Victoria passed laws on Tuesday legalising medical marijuana to be given to children with severe epilepsy and New South Wales waiting for trials to be over, South Australia’s Liberal Opposition and doctors urged SA Health Minister Jack Snelling to reconsider medical marijuana laws prevailing in the state.

Currently, New South Wales is conducting trials on patients suffering from nausea and vomiting as a result of chemotherapy. According to SA Opposition Leader Steven Marshall, South Australia is “well behind best practises.”

“Jack Snelling does not seem to want to embrace this opportunity to relieve children who are suffering horrendous symptoms,” Marshall added, reports the ABC.

He believes South Australia is lagging behind others as the rest of the country is looking for opportunities to legalise cannabis so that hundreds of patients can get relief. However, Snelling, who has the powers to allow certain patients access to medical marijuana under the Controlled Substances Act, said that South Australia is not looking at changing the law.

“We won't be, at this stage, making any legislative change — I'm waiting to see the outcomes of the New South Wales trial,” he said.

Even Australian Medical Association state president Janice Fletcher agreed that medical cannabis laws need to be reconsidered and the issue must be taken up more seriously. He took the example of Victoria and said South Australia needs to have another look at prevailing medical cannabis laws.

“There is evidence for particular groups of patients that it does improve symptom control, but it's a small group of patients. We need a robust review of the evidence,” he said.

According to University of Melbourne psychiatrist Professor David Castle, medical marijuana use has to be controlled in such a way so that people do not get addicted to the drug. He said that numerous medicines are addictive and potentially harmful. Hence, he does not find a reason why medical marijuana should not “become an important part of pharmacopoeia,” writes News.com.au.