Australia On The Cusp Of Legalising Medical Marijuana
A cross-party committee of Australian senators are aggressively working towards the legalisation of medical cannabis, with the Regulator of Medicinal Cannabis Bill set to be in place by the year’s end.
Being on the other side of the world, we don’t often hear about the domestic debates going on in Australia, but with the current global climate interest in cannabis legalisation, the news that Australia is moving ever closer to taking the plunge has been making waves.
The committee of senators responsible is said to be made up of members of each parliamentary party, including labour, the current government opposition. The task was first handed to them back in November 2014, when the proposal for medical marijuana was first introduced to parliament. Since then the committee has been regularly debating the topic, holding public hearings, and gaining public statements. It is thought that after the accumulation of all this work, the committee will “strongly recommend” that Australia legalises medical cannabis, with the government controlling the whole process: everything from seed to sale.
As things stand, over two-thirds of Australians support medical marijuana legalisation, while only nine percent oppose it.
One segment of Australian society that is opposed to the move is the Health Department, saying the legalisation of medical marijuana would create “complexity and uncertainty,” as well as conflict with current law and the country’s obligation to the UN.
Martin Bowles, the Health Departments secretary, warned that the proposed bill would end up “leading to the risk of regulatory gap, overlapping laws and a lack of clarity about the exercise of jurisdiction by agencies and possible inconsistency with other existing laws.”
Senators involved rather sarcastically understand the concerns, with Senator Di Natale saying “I can understand why someone like Medicines Australia might be opposed. It doesn't conform to the model of a traditional pharmaceutical and some people would argue it is a competitor.”
Natale went on to say that this was the precise reason a federal regulator need to be set up, as current law and administration markets pharmaceutical products, and doesn’t issue approval to herbal based medicines.
Fortunately, it looks like the regulatory bill has a lot of support, both public and parliamentary. While it isn’t without its flaws, it is unlikely to be dismissed. Its enactment wil open up this wondrous medicine to the people that need it, as well as potentially generating millions, if not billions, for the Australian economy.