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  1. Beenthere2Hippie
    The Australian Parliament passed a measure Wednesday legalizing medical marijuana. The amendments to the Narcotic Drugs Act will allow cannabis to be legally grown for medical and scientific purposes for the first time in Australia.

    "This is an historic day for Australia and the many advocates who have fought long and hard to challenge the stigma around medicinal cannabis products so genuine patients are no longer treated as criminals," Minister for Health Sussan Ley said in a statement. "This is the missing piece in a patient's treatment journey and will now see seamless access to locally-produced medicinal cannabis products from farm to pharmacy."

    The decision came exactly a year after 25-year-old Daniel Haslam lost his life to terminal bowel cancer. Haslam used medical marijuana to ease his pain and nausea before he died last February. His mother, Lucy, started a medical cannabis advocacy group called United in Compassion and petitioned for the government to make it legal. Australian Sen. Richard Di Natale brought up Haslam's story before Parliament on Wednesday.

    "It is incredibly fitting that today we are passing this bill which is one step towards making medicinal cannabis accessible to people like Dan," Di Natale said. "Thank you to Lucy for everything you have done. Please know that your family's grief, pain and suffering has not been in vain and this is a legacy that Dan will leave here in Parliament."

    Other patients in Australia lauded the government for Wednesday's milestone.

    Australia resident Narelle Reimers wished she could have used medical marijuana when she was fighting cancer. "As a cancer survivor I could've used some medicinal marijuana at times to relieve the pain, anxiety, hopelessness feelings, sadness, worry, insomnia, etc," she wrote on Facebook. "Finally some common sense from our government."

    While cannabis plants can now be legally grown in Australia, it was unclear when the plants would be ready for use by prescription-carrying patients. Regulations need to be put in place and production licenses would need to be applied for before production can begin, according to United in Compassion.

    The health minister reminded people that the changes would not affect recreational marijuana, which remains illegal.

    By Christina Zdanowicz - CNN/Feb. 24, 2016
    Newshawk Crew

    Author Bio

    BT2H is a retired news editor and writer from the NYC area who, for health reasons, retired to a southern US state early, and where BT2H continues to write and to post drug-related news to DF.


  1. Docta
    Aussie Senate Passes Medicinal Cannabis Legislation

    [imgr=white]https://drugs-forum.com/forum/attachment.php?attachmentid=48989&stc=1&d=1456355019[/imgr] Medicinal cannabis will be legally grown in Australia, with changes passed to create a national licensing scheme for growers. The changes to the Narcotic Drugs Act, which passed the Senate on Wednesday, create a national body that can issue licences to growers and regulate local crops of medicinal marijuana.

    "The many advocates who have fought long and hard to challenge the stigma around medicinal cannabis products so genuine patients are no longer treated as criminals."

    Health Minister Sussan Ley

    The drug remains a "prohibited substance" under the poisons schedule. But Health Minister Sussan Ley said the Department of Health and the Therapeutic Goods Administration were "well-advanced" in considering downgrading it to a "controlled substance" class, putting it in the same category as morphine.

    "This will in turn reduce any barriers to access, no matter what state a patient lives in," she said.

    Ms Ley said that patients would be able to access locally-produced medicinal cannabis with a valid prescription under the scheme.

    It was previously illegal to grow and import most medicinal cannabis products, leading some patients to buy them from the black market and run the risk of being prosecuted for drug use and possession.

    "This is an historic day for Australia and the many advocates who have fought long and hard to challenge the stigma around medicinal cannabis products so genuine patients are no longer treated as criminals," she said.

    Advocates have said that regulating medicinal cannabis for certain health conditions will pave the way for a safe, sustainable local industry and allow more research to be done on the quality of different products.

    A handful of Australian companies have been preparing to import medicinal marijuana cuttings from overseas and searching for potential sites to plant crops in anticipation of the changes.

    AusCann chairman and former Liberal MP Mal Washer said the Therapeutic Goods Administration still had to determine the types of medicinal marijuana that could legally be grown and manufactured. But he said the group could start growing the product within a month of this decision.

    Listed company MGC Pharmaceuticals executive chairman Brett Mitchell said the Australian market for medicinal marijuana was worth billions of dollars, and the local climate was ideal for growing the plant.

    "It's really fast-tracked our strategic planning of starting our operations in Australia. We didn't think it would move this quickly."

    He said cannabidiol would be highly sought after to help treat severe epilepsy and nausea following chemotherapy. This had strong anti-nausea and anti-inflammatory properties.

    Lucy Haslam, who has led the campaign to legalise medicinal cannabis, estimated that hundreds of thousands of Australians bought the drug on the black market to treat conditions such as paediatric epilepsy. She said the prosecution risk they faced added to the "enormous burden" associated with such life-threatening conditions.

    Wednesday was also the anniversary of the death of her son Dan, who publicly revealed he was using the drug to relieve the nausea and vomiting he experienced as he underwent chemotherapy, and campaigned alongside her.

    Ms Haslam said: "He would really be at peace today. He didn't want to die...but it would give him peace to know this is going to help so many Australians. I think he'd be proud."

    Greens leader Richard Di Natale said the changes were an "important first step" to legalising medicinal marijuana. More work was needed to deal with how doctors would prescribe the drug and how it would be distributed, he said.

    Senator Di Natale dropped his attempt to pass a separate law - co-sponsored by Labor and Liberal senators - to establish a regulator that would oversee growth, manufacture and distribution, but said: "If we don't see the drug make its way to pharmacies and to doctors, we will look at reintroducing legislation that does that."

    Jane Lee
    Legal affairs, health and science reporter
    February 24, 2016
    Copyright © 2016 Fairfax Media
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