Long Story Short
Australia lawmakers reached a formal decision this week to make medical cannabis legal. The new changes will go into effect this November. There will be a strict set of rules and regulations governing the use of medical cannabis. And recreational cannabis will remain illegal.
A short time later some much more important things happened. In February, the Australian government revised the country’s Narcotic Drugs Act. The amendments made it legal to grow cannabis for medical and research purposes.
Now the government has finalized some key decisions regarding medical cannabis. And yesterday, it announced that a tightly regulated form of medical marijuana would become legal starting in November.
An “Essential Step” for Australia
One of the leading activists in the movement to legalize medical cannabis in Australia is Lucy Haslam. She helped lead the charge after her son, Daniel Haslam, died from bowel cancer. Daniel relied on medical cannabis to treat the pain and nausea he experienced throughout his illness.
This week Haslam called the government’s decision to begin medical cannabis in November an “essential step in the process.” But she and other advocates also said that the new changes may not be enough.
Potential Limitations for Australia
Many in the cannabis community see this as a positive development. Yet there are still concerns that the new rules won’t do enough for patients.
For example, advocates said that even after this week’s announcement many patients remain stuck in a “holding pattern.” That’s because although medical cannabis will technically become legal in November, the country still hasn’t set up its medical cannabis system. Some experts said it could take much longer for the government to get everything in place.
And people like Haslam have also voiced concerns that the new system might be too hard to navigate. She’s worried that it will be “so bound up in red tape” that many people won’t be able to get the medicine they need.
“My fear is that the industry will become so expensive that patients won’t be able to access a legal supply at an affordable price,” Haslam said. “There’s also a lot of work to do on educating people and doctors, some of who remain a bit uncomfortable about prescribing medical cannabis to patients.”