Health Minister Sussan Ley says the Government wants to give people suffering from debilitating illnesses access to all of the most effective medical treatments, including medical cannabis.
The minister said she had been moved by stories of people who get relief from the currently restricted drug, sometimes legally imported but not always. However, Ms Ley said the legalisation was only about medicinal cannabis, not recreational use.
“This is not a debate about legalisation of cannabis. This is not about illicit drugs. This is not a product you smoke. This has nothing to do with that,” Ms Ley said. “Most commonly the product is an oil or a tincture that you put on your skin.”
A progressive government in Victoria looks to have that state as the nation’s first onboard, the state Government plans to embark on a cannabis cultivation trial, based on the recommendations of a report by the Victorian Law Reform Commission ::::
Health Minister Sussan Ley says she’s “…heard stories of patients who have resorted to illegal methods of obtaining cannabis and I have felt for them, because with a terminal condition, the most important thing is quality of life and relief of pain,” the minister said. “And we know that many people are calling out for medicinal cannabis. It is important therefore that we recognise those calls for help, that we put in place what we know will support a safe, legal and sustainable supply of a product.”
The Federal Government plans on amending the Narcotic Drugs Act to allow cannabis to be grown for medicine or science and ensure that Australia is not in breach of international drug treaties.
Ms Ley said it would allow cultivation similar to the way Tasmania has grown opium poppies for the world’s morphine market. She said it is possible a medicinal cannabis industry could flourish.
“It is, and that is something that some state governments I am sure will be interested in,” Ms Ley said. “You can import the product from overseas, but it is almost impossible because the demand in, for example Europe, is very high and the cost is very high too. So I don’t want to place these difficulties in the way of patients who are terminally ill who may be able to get relief from medicinal cannabis.”
Marijuana Conditions of Use:
- Severe muscle spasms or severe pain from MS
- Severe pain from cancer, HIV or AIDS
- Severe nausea, vomiting or wasting from cancer, HIV or AIDS
- Severe seizures from epileptic conditions (if other treatments don’t work)
- Severe chronic pain where two specialist medical practitioners think medicinal cannabis might work better than other medical options
Source: Victorian Law Reform Commission
Pro-pot Groups Optimistic
Advocates of medicinal cannabis have cautiously welcomed the Federal Government’s plan to allow the drug to be cultivated.
Lucy Haslem set up campaign group United in Compassion after her son used medicinal cannabis during his battle with terminal cancer. She said she was grateful that politicians were starting to get onboard but that the devil would be in the detail.
“I hope what they’re announcing today will be meaningful in terms of getting medicine into the hands of patients in a timely fashion,” Ms Haslem said. “I’m hoping that it will involve some sort of medical amnesty which could happen immediately but I guess I’m waiting to see the finer detail.”
Ms Haslem said she hoped there would be no further delay before patients are able to access the drug legally.
“I hope that medicinal cannabis will be provided from within Australia. I think there’s great scope for the development of a new industry,”Ms Haslem said. “I hope that patients with numerous serious illnesses and conditions have access to it … I hope that we’re not waiting another year or two for this to be set in motion.”
Labour Party Pushing for National Scheme
The Federal Labour Party has also announced it would move to legalise medicinal cannabis, however, while the Government will leave it up to the states to decide if they want to allow the drug to be grown, the shadow assistant health minister, Stephen Jones, said Labor would have a nationally consistent scheme.
“A truly national scheme to make medicinal cannabis available,” Mr Jones said. “It should not be a matter of whether you live in New South Wales or Victoria or somewhere else in Australia. If you are suffering from a terminal illness, if your child has drug-resistant epilepsy suffering from life threatening fits, then you should have available to you through medical advice and appropriate channels, medicinal cannabis.”
Several states have already announced clinical trials for medicinal cannabis, but until the change is made they have not been able to legally grow the crop.
The NSW Government has committed $9 million for clinical trials and up to $12 million to set up a Centre for Medicinal Cannabis Research and Innovation.
Greens leader Richard Di Natale welcomed the plan but said more needs to be done to ensure patients can access the medicine.
“We’re seeing legislation that would license growers but really ignores the most important part of the equation and that is making sure that people who need this drug can get access to it,”Richard Di Natale said. “We’ve got a bottleneck in the approval of medicinal cannabis and this legislation does nothing to address that.”
Medicinal Marijuana to be Legalised in Victoria in Australian First
Locally-grown medicinal cannabis will be legalised in Victoria, under a controversial State Government move to ease the suffering of people with serious medical conditions.
In an Australian first, the Andrews Government plans to embark on a state-based cannabis cultivation trial, based on the recommendations of a report by the Victorian Law Reform Commission. However the move will need the support of the Federal Government, which is a signatory to an international convention on narcotic drugs.
The commission has recommended licensing cultivators and manufacturers to produce the drug under laws similar to those governing the state’s opium poppy industry.
Medicinal cannabis should be available in a variety of forms, including tinctures, oils, capsules, sprays and vaporisable liquids, but should not be smoked because of the health dangers, the commission said.
The drug would be prescribed by a specialist and sold at pharmacies under arrangements based on the methadone program, not a grow-your-own scheme.
Commission chairman Philip Cummins said the report was driven by compassion for people, including chronically ill children, who were suffering and had no effective medical relief.
Children with severe epilepsy would be the first to be treated with Victorian-grown medicinal cannabis, from 2017.
Labor made an election pledge to legalise medicinal cannabis in a bid to help parents it said were being forced to choose between breaking the law and watching their children suffer.
Premier Daniel Andrews said it was one of the best days of his political career.
“There are about 450 or those beautiful little people and they’re going to get legally for the first time the medicine that they need to transform their lives, and indeed to save their lives,” Mr Andrews said. “The time has come for us to stop finding reasons not to do this. There will be a cost involved, there’s no doubt about that. It’s not about dollars and cents really, this is about saving lives.”
‘Solid Research’ Justifies Medicinal Marijuana
The commission has made 42 recommendations, including that medicinal cannabis be available to treat five serious conditions, including multiple sclerosis, cancer, HIV or AIDS, epilepsy and chronic pain.
Dr Ian Freckelton QC, who led the review, said the proposed scheme was ground-breaking and innovative.
“We were struck by the compelling and moving stories of persons suffering serious illnesses or caring for those suffering such illnesses,” Dr Freckelton said. “They are doing so illegally, that means there’s a fear on their part of being prosecuted and embarrassed, there is now a solid research base justifying this innovative step.”
The State Government will begin a cultivation trial at a research facility and establish an Office of Medicinal Cannabis within the Department of Health and Human Services to oversee the manufacturing, dispensing and clinical aspects of the framework.
The Victorian and Queensland state governments have already joined forces with New South Wales to take part in medicinal cannabis clinical trials. But Dr Freckelton said it was not appropriate to wait years for the results and Therapeutic Goods Administration approval of pharmaceutical products.
“We were satisfied on the basis of those whom we met, many of whom had utilised medicinal cannabis to their advantage, and on the basis of research evidence, that it is an appropriate time for this modest step to be taken to alleviate suffering,” he said.
The commission said there would be a rigorous licensing scheme, to reduce the risk of organised criminals benefiting from medicinal cannabis production. While the plan needs the support of the Federal Government, Commonwealth legislative change is not required, the commission said.
“The Commonwealth is the signatory to an important international convention in relation to narcotic drugs and so it is fundamental that Australia, including Victoria, comply with its international obligations in that regard,” Dr Freckelton said.
The Victorian Government has accepted 40 of the report’s recommendations and two in principle. An independent medical advisory committee will examine whether to increase the number of eligible patients.
Company Plans to Export Medicinal Cannabis
Medical cannabis will eventually be legalised by most Australian states and any opposition is based on “faith, not logic”, the chairman of a business granted permission to grow crops on Norfolk Island has said.
Former West Australian Liberal MP Mal Washer, who is a GP and chairman of a Perth-based company which has just been granted permission to grow medical marijuana on Norfolk Island for export to Canada, said the growing operation would be closely monitored.
The company had previously sought permission to grow cannabis in Tasmania but encountered too much opposition.
“Norfolk Island has a fairly autonomous government so they were fairly receptive because they have economic problems and they need employment opportunities for the people there,” Dr Washer said.
The Australian Federal Government will soon take governing control over Norfolk Island and the growing plans will have to be approved by the incoming island administrator.
Dr Washer said if the plans went ahead, the company would plant crops in November and hoped to harvest two tonnes of the product next year.
“Canada will take all that we can produce at the moment; the market is really open there,” Dr Washer said. “There are a lot of illnesses that have benefited terrifically from medical cannabis — post-traumatic stress syndrome, terminal illness and the pain, anxiety and nausea associated with that, muscle spasm in multiple sclerosis. There have been at least 60 trials done, globally, proving the benefits of cannabis in certain illnesses.”
Several trials of medical cannabis are now underway in Australia, and Dr Washer believes it is only a question of “when, not if Australia legalises it”.
“Twenty countries and 23 US states have now legalised it. I’m sure that will happen in Australia, it’s just a matter of time.” Dr Washer said.
Dr Washer said the cannabis growing operation on Norfolk Island would be monitored by both Canadian and Australian government authorities. The Canadian medical marijuana model, which has been in place for 10 years, is “well policed and probably the best model in the world for handling medical cannabis”, he said.
Hip-Hippy Hooray …we got favourited
RELATED! Norfolk Island Parliament to be Replaced by Local Council
Norfolk Island residents will have to pay income tax and their parliament will be replaced with a local council under a $136 million plan signed off on by Federal Cabinet.
The changes, which have been debated for years and are almost certain to be supported by the Opposition, will also give the island’s 1,800 inhabitants access to Australia’s welfare and healthcare systems for the first time from July next year.
“Infrastructure on Norfolk Island is run down, the health system is not up to standard and many laws are out of date”, said Jamie Briggs, the Assistant Infrastructure and Regional Development Minister. “Something has to change … this is the first step.”
The tiny island halfway between New Caledonia and New Zealand is in financial strife. The local government currently raises money through a 12 per cent GST, but the island’s economy has struggled in recent years, largely due to a downturn in tourism, and there has not been enough cash to pay for basic services.
The island owes the Commonwealth about $11 million and a recent bipartisan parliamentary report recommended scrapping the local parliament.
“Over 20 reports have told us the situation is unsustainable”, Mr Briggs said. “This has been reported to Government since 1997 … we are not going to sweep this under the carpet. The most overwhelming bit of feedback I’ve had is ‘get on and do this’.”
Bringing Norfolk Island in line with mainland Australia was a Coalition election commitment.
Under the changes, the island’s Legislative Assembly will be replaced with a regional council, similar to the one that operates on Lord Howe Island, with elections to be held in the first half of next year.
A five person Community Advisory Council will be set up to manage the transition. Norfolk Island Chief Minister Lisle Snell and Speaker David Buffett have been invited to be members.
But Mr Snell said replacing the parliament with a council is a bad idea.
“Some people on Norfolk Island, some of the residents here, will welcome this change and that is their right to do so. The regrettable part of this is that the colonial overlord master/servant system will be returned to Norfolk Island,” Mr Snell said.
Residents will be forced to pay personal and business taxes but not the GST, while New South Wales will be contracted by the Commonwealth to provide services.
Residents Fear ‘Colonial-style’ Rule
The island has a brutal colonial past and some residents have claimed the Government’s plan could soon see them subject to “colonial-style” rule.
Last year, Mr Snell travelled to Canberra to argue against a complete takeover. He wanted the island to join Australia’s tax and welfare system but retain similar powers to a state or territory government.
“The island would be administered in the old colonial style system, where there would be an administrator appointed from afar,” he said last year.
The Commonwealth has looked at revoking Norfolk Island’s tax status before but was beaten by well-organised campaigns.
In 2006, Labor accused the Howard government of caving in to pressure from a Liberal-aligned lobby group Crosby Textor. The company was hired to fight against proposed changes to the island’s tax system.
But the then Abbott Government believes the majority of people on the island support its changes and is confident there will not be a similar campaign this time.
RELATED! VLRC Medicinal Cannabis Report
Researchers Warn ‘Treeless’ Suburbs Put People’s Health at Risk
Urban planners and researchers warn increasing housing density in Australian cities must not be at the expense of tree cover and its cooling benefits.
A pilot study done by a team from the University of Melbourne warned “treeless” outer suburbs were a risk to health and wellbeing :: Read the full article »»»»
REBLOG! Shameful New Australian Mental Health Report Says ‘No Progress’ in 30 Years
A tragic place who’s border is much finer than most would expect, at any given moment almost any breathing human can topple from well-balanced mental health, into a world that is not only coddled by confusion, but largely ignored by the galaxy.
Mental health truly works in shades-of-grey, what for one person might simply be an anxious moment, is for another a life crippling disability. And although medicine – and medicine of the mind – has made huge discoveries over the past three decades, a new report suggests the insights gained might not have improved the overall life of suffers.
The damning report undertaken by The University of Sydney’s Brain and Mind Research Institute –BMRI – has found the life expectancy for people suffering a mental illness hasn’t improved in 30 years. The finding is in stark contrast to the advances made for Australians suffering from illnesses like heart disease and cancer :: Read the full article »»»»
REBLOG! What’s the Biggest Killer? DIET! Overtaking 3rd World Disease
25 years ago, in 1990, maternal and child malnutrition, unsafe drinking water and sanitation were the leading risks for death. Today, unsurprisingly, poor diet has overtaken third world problems as the biggest contributor to early death around the world.
According to new analysis from the leading authority on global disease diet is the second highest (clearly aside from age) killer.
Smoking cigarettes still carries the highest risk factor of premature death, followed by high blood pressure and obesity.
However, the Institute of Health Metrics and Evaluation – IMHE – says that a combination of dietary factors, from eating too few fruits and vegetables, nuts, and whole grains to too much sodium and cholesterol, is taking a toll on health across the globe.
The IMHE’s study found that the largest contributor to early death globally is high blood pressure, in which age and family history partly play a roll, but so do obesity, smoking, excessive salt consumption, lack of exercise, and drinking large amounts of alcohol.
Noteworthy, alcohol is also one of the top 10 risk factors associated with the highest number of deaths for both men and women.
The study looked at 14 dietary risk factors. Cumulatively, unhealthy eating, including diets low in fruit, whole grains, and vegetables, and diets high in red meat and sugar-sweetened beverages contributed to more deaths than any other factor, causing ischemic heart disease, stroke and diabetes :: Read the full article »»»»
More on Marijuana from our abc.net.au:
- Sydney University receives record $33m medicinal marijuana research donation
- Mining Company moves to be first to grow medicinal cannabis
- NSW Government to run medicinal marijuana trial for epileptic children
From other news sites:
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