A worker harvests cannabis plants at a plantation near the northern Israeli town of Nazareth, in this May 28, 2013 file picture. Reuters/Amir Cohen/Files

If one is suffering from a chronic illness in Tasmania, specialist doctors from the island state will have the authority to prescribe medical marijuana from 2017. This has been made possible by a plan announced by Health Minister Michael Ferguson and Premier Will Hodgman.

The plan will allow broader application of medicinal cannabis in Tasmania under Tasmania’s Controlled Access Scheme than that proposed by Victoria, which has limited medicinal cannabis use to a single class of patient. Thus, patients will be allowed the “healing touch” without changes in the law.

The Controlled Access Scheme will be established by the State Government to provide marijuana to patients who require it. Cannabis will be grown lawfully using federal licenses and the scheme will require doctors to take proper approval before prescribing the drug. The specialist doctors would first ascertain whether medicinal cannabis will at all be required for the treatment of the condition. Thus, the process will be initiated by the specialist doctors.

“This scheme will allow access to medical cannabis products grown lawfully under Commonwealth licenses, when they come onto the market, which is expected to be as early as 2017,” a statement by Hodgson and Ferguson in Tasmanian Government website read.

Moreover, an expert panel of top clinicians will also be setup by Department of Health and Human Services for assessing applications.

“Under the Controlled Access Scheme a medical specialist doctor will be able to seek approval to prescribe a medical cannabis product for a specified medical condition, for example a child suffering severe epilepsy,” Ferguson added.

As already stated, the Tasmania scheme does not, in any way, decriminalise marijuana and no legislative changes would be required.

Tasmania’s medical marijuana breakthrough comes few days after Victoria planted cannabis seeds in a top-secret location after receiving a $28.5 million State Government package.

“We promised families that their children would be able to access this life-changing treatment as early as next year, and we’re getting it done. Never again will families have to make the heartbreaking choice between watching their children suffer and breaking the law,” Premier Daniel Andrews had said.