It's taken a long time to get here, but today the Federal Government will finally legalise the sale of medicinal marijuana in Australia.
According to The Courier Mail, Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt will today officially announce that cannabis can now be distributed in Australia to those who need it for health and pain relief reasons. At present, thanks to laws passed last year, patients can request medicinal marijuana from their GP, but, as there is no legal market in Australia, are forced to import the drug from overseas (or source it illegally). This change will essentially open up a whole new legal cannabis market in Australia, and allow companies to distribute (and eventually cultivate) it as a medicine.
"We are now making it easier to access medicinal cannabis, while still maintaining strict safeguards for individual and community safety," Hunt told The Courier Mail. "As part of these changes, importers can source medicinal cannabis products from a reputable supplier overseas and store these in a safe, secure warehouse in Australia."
The new rules will mean that people with chronic illness and pain — like epilepsy, multiple sclerosis and cancer — will be able to access the drug much more quickly and with much less rigmarole, although they'll still have to get a prescription from their doctor. Imports will initially make up the country's inventory of cannabis while domestic cultivation is established. According to News Corp, 14 crop licenses are already under consideration.
Just to be clear though, recreational use of marijuana is still very much illegal and laws vary state-to-state. This approval is a huge (and necessary) win for people who need marijuana for medical reasons, which will hopefully be implemented very soon.