Federal government to allow farmers to grow medicinal cannabis legally

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Medicinal marijuana products
Medicinal marijuana products are shown at the 250-member Pinoleville Pomo Nation in Ukiah, California January 23, 2015. An initial 10,000-square-foot state-of-the art greenhouse is scheduled to be erected within weeks on the land, in a joint marijuana production and processing venture with FoxBarry Farms of Kansas and the United Cannabis Corporation of Colorado. It's widely believed to be the first of its kind in the nation. The pioneering venture could signal a major wave of new marijuana operations across the nation to bring green to tribal bank accounts. Picture taken January 23, 2015. Reuters/Robert Galbraith

The federal government will soon legalise the growing of cannabis for research and medicinal purposes. Health Minister Susan Ley on Saturday announced that the government is making amendments to the Narcotics Drugs Act 1967, which will allow farmers to grow cannabis legally for use by terminally till patients.

The changes, soon to be incorporated into the act, will allow for the safe and sustainable distribution of cannabis within legal boundaries for the first time, Ley added. 

The federal government will also introduce a licensing scheme to ensure that the production of the product meets legal boundaries. The scheme will be formulated in concomitance with state and territory laws, which will be discussed in the Council of Australian Governments’ next meeting.

Ley said the government wants to extend help to people suffering from painful and debilitating illnesses by providing them with access to the product, which has been proven to lessen agony and pain. She added that she had been touched by the emotional stories of some patients who have benefited from the use of medicinal cannabis that they imported from other countries. 

"I have heard stories of patients who have resorted to illegal methods of obtaining cannabis and I have felt for them, because with a terminal condition, the most important thing is quality of life and relief of pain," she said in an interview on ABC AM on Saturday.

"And we know that many people are calling out for medicinal cannabis. It is important therefore that we recognise those calls for help, that we put in place what we know will support a safe, legal and sustainable supply of a product."

However, Greens leader Richard Di Natale has pointed out that the federal government announcement only spoke about allowing farmers to grow medicinal cannabis, but nothing about the distribution of the drug and how it would be accessed by patients who need it.

“We've addressed the issue of supply by licencing growers but we've ignored the much bigger problem which is approving the drugs for use so that doctors can prescribe it,” Di Natale told reporters on Saturday. “I fear these changes won't allow that to happen.”


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