Medical marijuana can now be used in Australia to treat patients suffering from painful and chronic illnesses. The Parliament has passed new national laws and amendments to the Narcotic Drugs Act now permit legally-grown marijuana for the manufacture of medicinal cannabis products in Australia. Changes proposed by the Turnbull government earlier this month had bi-partisan support.

However, recreational marijuana cultivation and use remain illegal as state-based criminal laws are still in place. Campaigner Lucy Haslam described this passing of legislation to legalise cannabis for medicinal purposes “bittersweet.” On Wednesday, when the legislation passed Federal Government, it was the one-year anniversary of the death of Haslam’s son, Dan, who relied heavily on the drug during a long battle with cancer.

Related: Mother of severely-disabled girl illegally uses cannabis oil to lessen child's pain; rallies for medical marijuana legalisation

Richard di Natale, Federal Greens leader, was part of a cross-party group that worked to bring the legislation to the Parliament. Senator di Natale said that the legislation was just the first piece of the puzzle as medical marijuana use is still illegal and available only through limited special access schemes and trials.

“It'll be allowed to be grown for medicinal purposes but doctors won't be able to prescribe it. The scheduling has to change, that's something that's done within the Therapeutic Goods Administration and that process is underway,” he said.

Related: Legalising marijuana: Cannabis use may alleviate women’s period pain, support chemotherapy patients and treat seizures

The government will take at least six months to write regulations that would allow cannabis to be cultivated legally under license, writes the ABC.

“It's going to be an expert panel involving scientists and the medical profession and probably the pharmacy profession, so there's going to be a lot of input, and I think it's really important at this critical stage that we get this right,” Mrs. Haslam said.

The new federal scheme will allow patients with a valid prescription to possess and use medicinal cannabis products produced from legally cultivated cannabis in Australia. The supply has to be authorised by the Therapeutic Goods Act and relevant state and territory legislation.

The changes will put medical marijuana in the same category as that of restricted medicinal drugs such as morphine.