Australians one step closer to medicinal cannabis

Australians one step closer to medicinal cannabis

Australians with chronic and painful illnesses are a step closer to accessing medicinal cannabis.

The Australian government has introduced legislation allowing the controlled cultivation of the plant for medicinal or scientific purposes.

Australian Dan Haslam was an unlikely medical marijuana crusader, the son of a drug squad detective and a nurse. But after he was diagnosed with cancer of the bowel, liver and lungs he fought to use cannabis to ease his pain. It was the only thing that worked.

"Hope is so important when you have been given a title of terminal," said Mr Haslam before he died. "When you are given that you need hope."

Mr Haslam died a year ago.

Now, on the of the anniversary of his death, the Australian government has introduced legislation to pave the way for the use of medicinal marijuana.

"This is a process and a product that we need to bring to the Australian people," says Australian Health Minister Sussan Ley.

The Government has given the green light for medical and scientific use only.

"We certainly use narcotics and many other medications such as amphetamines every day of the week, so medicinal cannabis shouldn't be seen as any different," says AMA president Brian Owler.

The Commonwealth will oversee what it says will be a safe domestic supply, providing licences and permits to vetted growers to prevent recreational use.

"This is not a product that you smoke; it's not a product that you find on the black market," says Ms Ley.

Opposition parties welcome the new legislation but argue it doesn't go far enough because it doesn't legalise doctors prescribing the drug or patients possessing it.

"No good growing medicinal cannabis if a patient can't get it through a doctor," says Australian Green leader Richard Di Natale.

"We can't have people having access to a product if they face the risk of arrest for being in possession of it," says Shadow Assistant Health Minister Stephen Jones.

It's also unclear how it would be dispensed.