Victoria To Become First Australian State To Legalize Marijuana For Medical Purposes
Victoria is set to become the first Australian state to legalize marijuana to treat serious medical conditions including cancer, multiple sclerosis, HIV/AIDS, epilepsy and chronic pain.
Hailed as a long-overdue step by many Australians who up until now were forced to choose between treating themselves or their loved ones for their pain, or staying within the law, the change is seen as the first step along a road to comprehensive and clear rules for the nation as a whole.
And as a much-needed mercy in the lives of the severely ill.
“Children with severe epilepsy will now be able to legally access this life-saving treatment from as early as 2017,” said Victorian Minister for Health Jill Hennessy in a statement. “It is absolutely heart-breaking to see families having to choose between breaking the law and watching their children suffer–and now, thanks to our ground-breaking legislation, they won’t have to.”
The law makes the state the first in the country to set up a legal framework for patients to have access to the pain-relieving drug. It also mandates that the state will facilitate the “manufacture, supply and access” to high-quality medical forms of cannabis. Finally, the law establishes an Office of Medicinal Cannabis in order to oversee and regulate the drug’s production and its prescription by doctors.
The first patient group to be allowed access to the legal weed will be children with severe epilepsy, with the state set to produce the first batch of cannabis itself. However the government expressed hopes that private manufacturing industry would take over that function in the near future.
The news from Victoria comes on the heels of the federal government also taking steps toward allowing medical access to cannabis. The Australian Parliament in February revised the Narcotics Drugs Act to create a national licensing structure for the cultivation and testing of medical cannabis. This was seen by many as a first step that would clear the way for the states to create their own such systems.
“I’ve seen first-hand how medicinal cannabis can change people’s lives,” said Victoria Premier Daniel Andrews. “This landmark reform means Victorian families will no longer have to decide between breaking the law and watching their child suffer.”
Indeed the cracks in the armor of the mindless “Just Say No” crowd are growing wider and wider, especially in terms of grappling with the fact of marijuana’s medical uses. But with more US states looking at legalization, across the board legalization in Uruguay, and broad decriminalization in many other nations, it’s time to move on past hoary fears of gateway drugs and other unfounded fears and legalize it everywhere.
Victoria’s move is a welcome advance in an ongoing war that the good guys are winning.