Legislators are beginning the process of introducing a medical marijuana programme in Victoria, one of Australia’s most populated states. The Premier of Victoria, Daniel Andrews, has begun working alongside the Law Reform Commission to devise a bill which will be presented to the state’s Parliament in 2015. If successfully passed, the new law would allow for terminally ill patients, or individuals with life-threatening conditions, to access medically prescribed marijuana.
Premier Andrews, who assumed office earlier this month, expressed desire for marijuana policy reform when campaigning for the Victoria state elections during the summer. “[There are] parents, and I’ve met some of them, who are put in this terrible position where they can do the right thing by their child, or they can obey the law. That’s not a choice that any parent should have to make. […] Medical cannabis will be legalised and regulated for those patients.”
Medical marijuana is already available in several European countries, many U.S. states, and Canada, for treating a host of medical conditions. Patients in many of these locations can obtain marijuana prescriptions for treating chronic pain, nausea, multiple schlerosis, and many other ailments. Most notably, marijuana derivatives have been found to be successful in enhancing the effectiveness of chemotherapy and reducing some of it’s negative side effects.
The president of the Australian Medical Association, Tony Bartone, has lent cautious support to the measure. “The evidence shows it may have a role to play in certain conditions,” he said earlier this year,“[…] but Australia has one of the safest therapeutic guidelines systems in the world, which means just like any other medication that goes onto the market, [marijuana] must go through the same regulatory and research trials so we can determine dosage and how to best administer it”.
Victoria is among many regions and countries that have moved towards marijuana policy reform this year. The Jamaican has government announced plans to decriminalise marijuana for religious, scientific, and medical purposes, while in Chile, the government recently allowed for the production of hundreds of marijuana plants for medical consumption. Meanwhile, the U.S. states of Illinois and New York have begun implementing a medical marijuana programme for their residents. Outright legalisation has also gained momentum, with gradual reform underway in Uruguay, the implementation of regulated marijuana markets in Colorado and Washington, and the approval of such legislation by referenda in Alaska, Oregon, and Washington D.C.