HIGH HOPE FOR SICK
Medical marijuana legislation wins key victory
CANNABIS should be legalised for medical use and put under a new Commonwealth regulator with responsibility for the emerging treatment, a parliamentary committee has recommended.
The federal Legal and Constitutional Affairs Legislation Committee last night published its report into proposed crossparty legislation to allow the drug to be used by those battling medical conditions.
The private senator’s Bill – put forward by Greens leader Richard Di Natale – has crossparty support, with co-sponsoring from Liberal, Labor and independent senators.
It follows months of behind-the-door lobbying of Government members by MPs and the people forced to turn to drug dealers to help sick loved ones. It also follows com- ments by Prime Minister Tony Abbott last year that he had “no problem with the medical use of cannabis just as I have no problem with the medical use of opiates”.
The proposed law change would create a new Regulator of Medicinal Cannabis with responsibility for the production, transport, storage and usage of cannabis products for medicinal purposes. The committee has suggested some changes to the bill to ensure scientific evidence can be assessed to determine the suitability of treatments for particular conditions.
The legislation’s interaction with other federal and state laws also needed some attention, it said. But its final recommendation of six said: “Subject to the preceding recommenda- tions, the committee recommends that the Bill is passed.”
A cross-party media conference will be held today to push the issue forward.
Senator Di Natale last night said the unanimous endorsement of the Bill was a significant step towards reform
He called on Mr Abbott to allow the Bill to be debated during Government business – a step that would expedite it on the floor of the Senate.
“Given that the Bill has cosponsors from all sides of politics I hope that we can work together to make this happen,” he said. “The community wants this reform, the evidence supports it and a Senate committee has unanimously endorsed it. Now all we need is the will to get it done.
“This issue is not about politics. It’s about getting medicine to people who need it.”