A bill to legalize growing of medicinal cannabis for certain conditions would be put for vote in November by the Australian government. The bill has attracted initial support from the Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull.
While Victoria and NSW state governments had indicated that they wanted to legalize medicinal cannabis, a federal regulatory scheme was required to do this: "We need national laws to make sure we can license growers ... that doctors can prescribe this and that the medication gets in the hands of patients who need it."
The drug could be prescribed for certain conditions where there was "overwhelming evidence" of its effectiveness, including stopping muscle spasms from multiple sclerosis, and as an appetite stimulant for some terminal illnesses.
Health Minister Sussan Ley said, " We must ensure any therapeutic product, including medicinal cannabis, is not only a safe and effective treatment for public use, but also meets our strict international obligations safe-guarding its manufacture and distribution for medical purposes only,"
Labor senator Anne Urquhart, who will co-sponsor the bill, said people were already risking criminal charges to use the drug: "We still need to trial some of these substances and [also] make sure that people are safe from criminality and that we have a safe, effective and affordable system where people can access medicinal cannabis."