Victoria removes roadblocks for medicinal cannabis

Published at Apr 14, 2016, in Features

Another day, another roadblock removed to medical cannabis acceptance with the Victorian government clearing the way for legal access in “exceptional circumstances”.

Thanks to a bill which passed Victorian parliament earlier this week, patients and their families will be able to legally access medical cannabis – with an initial focus on children with severe epilepsy.

The Victorian government had previously flagged increased access to synthetic medical cannabis trials for those suffering epilepsy – but the latest bill effectively creates a framework for patients to access medical cannabis for the first time.

At this stage, patients should be able to access medical cannabis from early 2017.

State health minister Jill Hennessy said the bill would alleviate suffering she had witnessed first-hand.

“It is absolutely heart-breaking to see families having to choose between breaking the law and watching their children suffer – and now, thanks to our ground-breaking legislation, they won’t have to,” Hennessey said in a statement.

In addition to increased access, the Victorian government will move to establish an Office of Medicinal Cannabis to help oversee manufacture and all clinical aspects of the bill framework.

As part of this push, the Victorian government will create an advisory body to help provide advice on which products would be available under the laws and other matters.

It also flagged the possibility of widening the scope of who would be able to access the products in the future.

In February the Australian senate passed a bill which essentially put medical cannabis into the same restricted class of drugs as morphine – rather than being classed as an illicit drug.

The way for a national regulator has now been paved to be set up to audit companies which wish to grow medical cannabis in Australia, extracting cannabidiol to use in medical products.

At the time, health minister Susan Ley called it the “missing link” in Australian regulation of medical cannabis products.

Previoulsy, patients had a confusing combination of ways to access medical cannabis products – some of which have been shown to help multiple sclerosis, epilepsy and some cancers.

In the past, Australians had to import products but were faced with export barriers in place in other countries.

Having a local supply of Australian made and manufactured medical cannabis products has significant potential for patients who could benefit from medical cannabis products.

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