Medical marijuana in Australia just took a giant leap forward. Greg Hunt, Federal Health Minister, has announced that imports will be allowed. The government says this is an “interim adjustment” to accommodate the demand for medical marijuana in Australia.
ABC News reports that local production can’t keep up with demand. Approving imports on a case-by-case basis takes too long, but the new provision will speed things up.
A historical first
Hunt says the law makes history, as it is a first for the government to facilitate a process to import an interim supply. He claims there will be enough to go around to all patients who have applied for medical marijuana with their doctors. Even though it won’t happen overnight, it’s going to represent an improvement.
Medical marijuana was legalized last year, and Victoria has already harvested the first crop for epilepsy patients. The minister congratulated Victoria for the production of high quality, safe cannabis medicine.
Mr. Hunt also confirmed the development of a private cultivation program as a long-term solution to the demand and says that government issued the first license last week. He says it’s all about the government trying to do the right thing while still instituting rules to ensure quality and safety.
Hunt dismissed the notion of the wider use of cannabis decriminalization in the foreseeable future.
Activists still have concerns about medical marijuana in Australia
Medical marijuana activists congratulated the government, but still have concerns regarding the pathways of accessibility.
Lucy Haslam says a change on the medical marijuana front is long overdue. At the end of the day, what is most important is the time it takes for patients to have the medicine in their hands. Many patients are still struggling with the application process.
Some patients even battle to find an authorized person to prescribe medical marijuana, she says. She would like to see the government reviewing the entire process. Registered doctors may not advertise the fact that they can prescribe. This makes it difficult for patients to find them.
Access process needs streamlining
Haslam believes the government could streamline these kinds of hurdles quite easily to make the process to access much easier and faster. She’s the mother of Don Haslam, a well-known medical marijuana advocate who passed away almost two years ago. He used medical marijuana to treat the symptoms of bowel cancer.
In the meantime, the Australian Medical Association (AMA) cautioned against sales of medical marijuana. Vice President Tony Bartone said the medical fraternity is still waiting for results from clinical trials. Most doctors are looking for proof from trials that are reliable, and they want clinical evidence before they will prescribe medical marijuana.
Australia embraces medical marijuana
Despite dissenting voices from some medical authorities, medical marijuana in Australia is moving ahead. When conventional medicine isn’t proving effective, people feel that they should be able to get medical marijuana.
Perhaps the reliable scientific trials that provide absolute proof aren’t there, but when “proven” medicines fail, patients want to explore other options. The Australian government hopes that it has facilitated this option with its new ruling.