Aussies change pot law, Australian doctors and patients now have access to reliable, safe, legal, and quality medical marijuana.
— ABC News (@abcnews) February 9, 2016
The Turnbull Government, backed by the Federal Parliament, passed the historic legislation on Wednesday to help manage the pain and suffering in people with chronic conditions. The push came from Sussan Ley, Minister for Health, who said this is the “final piece” needed to legally grow medical cannabis.
“This is an historic day for Australia and the many advocates who have fought long and hard to challenge the stigma around medicinal cannabis products so genuine patients are no longer treated as criminals,This is the missing piece in a patient’s treatment journey and will now see seamless access to locally-produced medicinal cannabis products from farm to pharmacy. I would particularly like to acknowledge the many patient advocates who have played a tremendous and tireless role in bringing this important issue to the attention of the nation.”
The decision to change Aussie pot laws was put under spotlight thanks to the tireless efforts of Daniel Haslam who lost his life exactly a year ago to cancer. 25-year-old Daniel had terminal bowel cancer and used pot for pain relieve and to ease nausea.
Daniel and his parents famously made a petition to legalize pot in Australia and destroy the stigma around it. Daniels mother was a nurse and his father a police officer and they knew the law. They watched Daniel suffer through chemotherapy for three years with no relief. The family never thought to turn to pot, until a fellow cancer sufferer suggested to Daniel that he try marijuana. The sick and desperate young man tried a joint and for the first time in three years he started to feel better. The pot kept his nausea at bay allowing him to eat again, which lead to weight gain. Lucy, Daniels mother, started the medical cannabis advocacy group United in Compassion. Daniel was the face and voice that represented a real need for legalizing medical marijuana in Australia.
During Daniel’s pot use he and his parents did not see themselves as criminals, but they were aware that under Australian law, they would be seen as such. Their fight, and that of countless other sick and dying Australians, is what helped change the pot laws in Parliament on Wednesday.
Australian Senator Richard Di Natalie brought Daniel Haslam’s heartbreaking story before Parliament as the bill was passed. “It is incredibly fitting that today we are passing this bill which is one step towards making medicinal cannabis accessible to people like Dan. Thank you to Lucy for everything you have done. Please know that your family’s grief, pain and suffering has not been in vain and this is a legacy that Dan will leave here in Parliament,” he said.
— Roniim (@Roniim) March 31, 2015
The amendments to the Narcotic Drugs Act that allow pot to be grown for medical and scientific purposes were met with a positive response, although for some Aussies the change to pot laws did not come soon enough.
“As a cancer survivor I could’ve used some medicinal marijuana at times to relieve the pain, anxiety, hopelessness feelings, sadness, worry, insomnia, etc,” one cancer sufferer wrote on Facebook. “Finally some common sense from our government.”
Ley took the opportunity to remind people that the changes in Aussie pot laws did not change the law around recreational use of pot, which remains illegal. Medical marijuana will only be available in Australia to patients carrying a prescription.
The law to legalize medical pot has passed but it may still be some time until patients can have a prescription filled. According to CNN pot can now legally be grown for medical and scientific purposes meaning new plants will need to be cultivated. Regulations still need to be put into place and appropriate licenses produced before production and sales can begin.
[Photo by Matthew J. Lee/Getty Images]