Australia has announced plans to legalize the growing of cannabis for medicinal and scientific purposes.
The Australian Department of Health is moving forward in its efforts to expand access to marijuana for medical and scientific purposes.
The Commonwealth Government first banned the importation, production, and sale of cannabis in 1926. The state of South Australia decriminalized low-level marijuana offenses in 1987, followed by the Australian Capital Territory around Canberra in 1993. Victoria will be the first state to allow the manufacture and sale of products containing THC in a similar process to the distribution of methadone.
The government on Saturday announced proposed changes to the Narcotics Drugs Act 1967, citing its sympathy for citizens dealing with medical issues. If approved by parliament, medical marijuana — primarily used as an oil — will be legal to grow locally.
This Government is incredibly sympathetic to the suffering of those Australians with debilitating illnesses and we want to enable access to the most effective medical treatments available – Health Minister Susan Ley
Australians cultivating marijuana for medical purposes will be given licenses while patient prescriptions will be regulated to ensure safety and sustainability. Growing and distributing marijuana for recreational purposes will remain illegal in the country, however.
“Allowing the cultivation of legal medicinal cannabis crops in Australia under strict controls strikes the right balance between patient access, community protection and our international obligations,” Ley said.
According to Saturday’s statement the Narcotics Drugs Act would be amended to allow marijuana to be grown locally without contradicting the country’s international obligations to the Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs. Recreational marijuana is still illegal in Australia, though police in most states do not charge people found with small amounts for personal use.