Victoria is aiming to become the first state in Australia to legalise marijuana cultivation to treat serious medical conditions including cancer, multiple sclerosis, HIV/AIDS, epilepsy and chronic pain.
But the push – underpinned by a landmark report by the Victorian Law Reform Commission – hinges on the agreement of the Turnbull government, which is a signatory to international rules covering the cultivation and manufacture of cannabis.
A landmark study by the commission recommends a strictly-controlled licensing scheme to produce medicinal cannabis, similar to the system for growing poppies.
Under the report’s 42 recommendations – almost all of which will be adopted in full by the Andrews government – licensed cultivators and manufacturers will be able to produce a range of cannabis products, including oils, tinctures, capsules, sprays and vaporisable liquids.
These products will be sold at pharmacies, but only when authorised by a specialist doctor in a manner similar to the methadone program.
But the report stressed medical marijuana will not be legally available in a smokable form.
The commission’s chairman, Philip Cummins, said the recommendations had been driven by compassion for those dealing with debilitating conditions who have no effective medical relief.
The government will begin a cultivation trial at a Victorian research facility. An independent medical advisory committee will also be set up to provide advice about expanding eligibility to further patient groups.
An office of Medicinal Cannabis will be established inside the Department of Health and Human Services to oversee the manufacture, dispensing and clinical aspects of the framework.
Premier Daniel Andrews said it was one of his proudest days in politics.
“I’ve seen first hand how medicinal cannabis can change people’s lives,” he said. “This landmark reform means Victorian families will no longer have to decide between breaking the law and watching their child suffer.”
– Fairfax Media Australia