Marijuana is legal for medicinal use in every Australian state and territory, following changes to the law which began 2 years ago.
The Federal government has legalized patient access to medical marijuana
The government, in the form of Greg Hunt has publicly said ‘We would like to be, potentially, the world’s number one medicinal cannabis supplier’
Australia is not unique in progressing its views on marijuana ‘Down Under’.
New Zealand is currently in talks at the highest political levels to determine the rules which will surround a referendum on whether cannabis should be made legal for adult recreational use. It’s a pressing issue in Australia too.
The country is, despite stringent laws still being in place around recreational cannabis use, the world’s number 1 user of recreational cannabis.
Why does Australia want to be number 1 in the world for medical marijuana?
The primary reason Australia wants to wrestle the title of the world’s number 1 provider of medical cannabis in the world from the current (some would say unlikely) holder, the United Kingdom, is to ensure supply of medical cannabis to Australians.
There are 2 primary reasons for the change.
- To ensure and maintain domestic supply: A growing body of evidence shows the effectiveness of cannabis in the medical treatment of a range of afflictions, including pain management, glaucoma, seizures, chromes disease, poor appetite and nausea from chemo-therapy. Understandably, Australia wants its population to benefit from those medicinal effects.
- To stimulate the export market: Licenses have been granted not just for the domestic production of medical cannabis, but also for its export. The goal of legalizing medical marijuana, says Hunt, is to ensure a stable and secure domestic supply which can then be used to support Australian citizens in their demand for cannabis based products (including, under the terms of the licenses, sprays, patches, tablets, lozenges and edibles.)
- To draw investment and generate taxes: Legalization has opened the doors for a flood of overseas investment in to Australia, bringing here some of the financial interest that has surrounded similar relaxation of cannabis related laws in other countries. In time, the result will be exports and, of course, for the government, income in the form of taxes on exported medical marijuana. CNN, for example, suggest that medical marijuana exports could quadruple in the next few years to be worth as much as $1 billion by the year 2020.
Bringing it all together
The fact that cannabis is legal for medical use in Australia and that the government is making such positive statements about its desire to be number 1 in the world for sales of the drug can only be seen as a positive thing for proponents of adult or recreational use.
Unfortunately, the clarity of their wish to lead the world in this regard is not matched in any meaningful way by action on the ground.
It remains extremely difficult to obtain a medical marijuana prescription in Australia and equally hard to fill it.
There are no on demand doctors and Eaze deliveries here.
In total, only a total of approximately 30 medical professionals in the country (population around 25 million) can currently prescribe cannabis and almost all of those are in a single state, New South Wales (NSW.)
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The government sends mixed messages, wanting to be number 1 for exports of medical cannabis but also describing it as a ‘gateway drug’ (a hypothesis which has no basis in science.)
At the same, time, it has taken some steps to make the process of prescription and supply easier, removing some of the steps required in every state.
It has also suggested that the issue of further legalization is a ‘question for the states’ hinting that the Federal government would allow a relaxation of marijuana legislation if more local government bodies were in favor of it.
Like much of the rest of the world then, Australia is still figuring out exactly what it wants when it comes to the legalization of cannabis, whatever bold and contradictory statements our government feels inclined to issue.