Australia’s quest for the legalisation of marijuana for medical use could be realised as soon as August 10 if a bill is passed when parliament returns.
The bill has bilateral support from Coalition, Labor and and crossbench senators, who strongly recommend setting up a federal medical marijuana regulator. This would oversee Australia’s cannabis production, distribution and use for medical purposes.
The bill comes following the death of Dan Haslam in February. Dan found marijuana was the only effective relief for pain caused by bowel cancer. He and his parents unwillingly became the most powerful campaigners for medical marijuana use.
More than two-thirds of Australians support the idea of medical marijuana use. A survey by Palliative Care Australia recently found only 9 per cent of people actively against it.
The Health Department strongly opposes the bill, saying a new system would create “complexity and uncertainty” and conflict with the existing Therapeutic Goods Act. It could also conflict with international obligations Australia has under the Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs.
Greens leader Richard Di Natale, who initiated the bill last year told Fairfax, “I can understand why someone like Medicines Australia might be opposed,” senator Di Natale said last month. “It doesn’t conform to the model of a traditional pharmaceutical and some people would argue it is a competitor.”
Mr Di Natale has acknowledged that there are certain problems with the bill, but that other countries that have legalised medical marijuana without violating conventions, so Australia could follow suit.
Last years, Tony Abbott expressed support for the bill last year, saying, “I have no problem with the medical use of cannabis just as I have no problem with the medical use of opiates.”
In the US, the medical marijuana growing industry is estimated to top $14 billion by 2020, while the global marijuana market is expected to reach $100 billion once fully mature.
Do you support this first step towards legalising marijuana for medical purposes?