When it comes to legalizing the medicinal use of cannabis, not everywhere is taking their sweet ol’ time like the United States. Where we are legalizing cannabis use state by state, others are legalizing it throughout their entire country – Canada being one example and Australia now joining the list of countries who have legalized cannabis for medical use. It has been months since Australia first made it legal to grow cannabis for medicinal and research purposes and since then, the question has been how patients would be able to go about accessing that medicine.
The good news is they have been working on this issue and this week the Therapeutic Goods Administration (similar to the Food and Drug Administration here in the U.S.) announced that in November, use of medical marijuana will finally be legal. This fight has been a long one for many, but the announcement is definitely a huge step in the right direction. While patients will legally be able to use medical cannabis, there is still the question of where they will be getting it from.
While it became legal to grow medical cannabis back in February of this year, the Therapeutic Goods Administration has not finished coming up with regulations that will govern this program. However, they are working on it and have said that things will be “strictly controlled”. There is no telling how soon they will have the regulatory framework finished – but hopefully it won’t be long after November now that they have made an official decision on the matter.
“My fear is that the industry will become so expensive that patients won’t be able to access a legal supply at an affordable price,” said Lucy Haslam, founder of United in Compassion. “There’s also a lot of work to do on educating people and doctors, some of who remain a bit uncomfortable about prescribing medical cannabis to patients.”
Seeing as how there was not an announced list of conditions that would qualify for medical marijuana in Australia, there is a chance that they will limit the number of patients who can access medical marijuana – in doing so, they would likely make that medicine far too expensive for most who are suffering. Hopefully that will not be the case, but in truth only time will tell as we wait for the Australian TGA to decide on how to go about regulating the plant in the first place.
Though there is still a lot up in the air right now, this is definitely a time for celebration among those who live in Australia. Medical marijuana should be accessible to anyone who would benefit from it – and hopefully they are taking steps to allow hundreds of thousands of patients to safely access legal medical cannabis.