Australia to Lift Ban on Medical Marijuana

PHOTO CREDIT: Pablo Porciuncula / AFP / Getty Images
PHOTO CREDIT: Pablo Porciuncula / AFP / Getty Images

The Australian government has announced plans to allow cannabis to be legally grown for medical and scientific purposes.

Under current laws, marijuana is classified as an illegal drug, and while penalties vary from state to state, people who grow, use, possess or sell it can be fined or sent to prison.

In a statement Saturday, the government said the Narcotics Drugs Act 1967 would be amended to allow the drug to be grown locally, without breaching the country’s international obligations as a signatory to the Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs, 1961.

“This Government is incredibly sympathetic to the suffering of those Australians with debilitating illnesses and we want to enable access to the most effective medical treatments available,” Health Minister Sussan Ley said in a statement.

Thousands called for change
Campaigners had been pushing for a change, arguing that it was unfair to criminalize patients who relied on the drug to ease their pain.

More than 246,000 people have signed a petition on to decriminalize the drug for medical use since it was launched two years ago.

It was initiated by retired nurse Lucy Haslam, whose late son Daniel used medical cannabis to ease the pain of terminal bowel cancer before his death in February at age 25.

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SOURCE: CNN, Hilary Whiteman