Medical Marijuana Legislation In Australia Gains Traction

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A Volunteer Displays Jars of Dried Cannabis Buds at the La Brea Collective Medical Marijuana Dispensary in Los Angeles
A volunteer displays jars of dried cannabis buds at the La Brea Collective medical marijuana dispensary in Los Angeles, California, March 18, 2014. Reuters

The Australian government may soon be deciding on the legalisation of medical marijuana in Australia. Reports said the federal government will be given the power to oversee the production and distribution of medical cannabis if the new legislation is passed.

Medical cannabis is not yet legal in Australia but the bill to legalise the drug is gathering steam as Greens Senator Richard Di Natale, who also serves as chairman to the cross-party Parliamentary Group for Drug Policy and Law Reform, prepares for its introduction to Parliament in October, SMH reports.

According to SMH, support for the legalisation of medical marijuana gained traction after Prime Minister Tony Abbott declared in a radio show that he has no problem with the drug when used for medical purposes. Mr Abbott said he supports a drug needed for a valid medical purpose. If it is being administered safely, its legality should not be questioned.

The prime minister has not expressed his opinion on the matter publicly until the radio show. He wrote a letter addressed to Alan Jones, the host of the Talkback show. He agreed with the idea of regulating the medical drug and said there was no need to do more testing since other countries have found medical cannabis safe to use.

Di Natale is also lobbying for the Therapeutic Goods Administration to create a special category for medical cannabis so it can be used with a prescription from the doctor. If successful, the bill will cover the licensing of marijuana growers, quality control, production and distribution processes.

Health experts have tested the effectiveness of medical cannabis to minimise pain and nausea in cancer patients getting chemotherapy treatments and those with multiple sclerosis. According to SMH's report, several politicians have weighed in on the issue with Liberal Democrat Senator David Leyonhjelm saying he would cast his vote for medical cannabis legislation on the condition that it would also be considered legal when used for recreation. Victorian federal Liberal MP Sharman Stone said mechanisms would be in place to ensure that the medical marijuana will not reach the illicit drug market. She mentioned Canada and Israel as the countries where medical cannabis is properly regulated. 

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