Australia’s population is roughly 23 million – while the US has approximately 318 million potential medical marijuana patients. All the same – lawmakers in the country have just legalized medical marijuana for the entire country, with a vote made by the Australian Parliament last Wednesday.
The Sydney Morning Herald reports that Senate lawmakers have officially put their seal of approval on amendments to the Narcotic Drugs Act, which, in turn, will engender the creation of an authority to oversee the licensing of cannabis farms and the nationwide distribution of medical marijuana products. People will be allowed to grow their own medicinal marijuana from Perth to Melbourne to Queensland near the Great Barrier Reef.
Minister for Health Sussan Ley said in a statement:
“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. This is the missing piece in a patient’s treatment journey, and [we] will now see seamless access to locally produced medicinal cannabis products from farm to pharmacy.”
The details of legalization are still being worked out by the nation’s federal government, but patients with a valid prescription will have access to both purchase and grow their own cannabis products. Specific types of marijuana that will be allowed are still being discussed, with an initial crop being expected to be planted within months.
Lucy Haslam launched a campaign to leglaize medical marijauan in Australia, after her son, Daniel, died last year from bowel cancer.
When petitioning Parliament to reform the nation’s marijuana laws, Haslam told lawmakers that she used cannabis to control the nausea and vomiting her son experienced as a result of chemotherapy treatments.
Haslam said after hearing Parliament’s decision:
“[Daniel] 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.”
There will be regulatory issues to overcome, as well as a learning curve for physicians who are not well versed in prescribing pot, but allowing cannabis use for medical patients for an entire continent – that’s an example the US could surely stand to follow.
Australian lawmakers say they are fully prepared to reintroduce legislation in the future to address any issues that may arise from legalizing medical marijuana.