Health Minister Sussan Ley said the Australian Federal Government wants to give people suffering from debilitating illnesses access to the most effective medical treatments.
Moved by stories of people seeking relief from medicinal cannabis, she told AM:
“I have heard stories of patients who have resorted to illegal methods of obtaining cannabis and I have felt for them, because with a terminal condition, the most important thing is quality of life and relief of pain”
“I have heard stories of patients who have resorted to illegal methods of obtaining cannabis and I have felt for them, because with a terminal condition, the most important thing is quality of life and relief of pain.”
“And we know that many people are calling out for medicinal cannabis.”
“It is important therefore that we recognise those calls for help, that we put in place what we know will support a safe, legal and sustainable supply of a product.”
The Government intends to amend the Narcotic Drugs Act to allow cannabis to be grown for medicine or science and ensure that Australia is not in breach of international drug treaties.
Ms Ley said it would allow cultivation similar to the way Tasmania has grown opium poppies for the world’s morphine market.
She said it is possible a medicinal cannabis industry could flourish.
“It is, and that is something that some state governments I am sure will be interested in,” Ms Ley said.
“You can import the product from overseas, but it is almost impossible because the demand in, for example Europe, is very high and the cost is very high too.
“Most commonly the product is an oil or a tincture that you put on your skin”
“So I don’t want to place these difficulties in the way of patients who are terminally ill who may be able to get relief from medicinal cannabis.”
Sussan Ley said the legalisation was only about medicinal cannabis not recreational use.
“This is not a debate about legalisation of cannabis. This is not about drugs. This is not a product you smoke. This has nothing to do with that,” she said.
“Most commonly the product is an oil or a tincture that you put on your skin.”
Opposition parties are also working on pushing for a nationwide scheme to legalise medicinal cannabis.