Medical cannabis to be made legal in Victoria by end of 2015, premier says



A file photo of a cannabis plant.
The Victorian Labor government is pushing to legalise medical marijuana in the state by the end of next year, according to the new Premier Daniel Andrews.
The move follows a drug reform policy outlined by Andrews' party before it gained power in the Victorian election in November.
On Friday, Andrews said in a press conference that the Victorian Law Reform Commission would submit a report by August 2015 to determine how the law could be changed to allow for cannabis use by terminally and chronically ill patients.
“It is my hope to have the bills into Victorian parliament before the end of the year,” Andrews, who became Victoria's premier on Dec. 4, said. "This change has to happen and it will happen under this Labor government."
"No parent should ever have to make a choice between saving their child and obeying the law. That is the definition of a law that is out of date," he said, according to Fairfax Media. "That is the definition of an area of our law that needs to be reformed and improved for the future."
He spoke outside the home of Cassie Batten, who was arrested with her husband Rhett Wallace this year for providing cannabis oil to their son Cooper Wallace, who suffers from severe epilepsy.
“I think every now and then the community’s call for reform becomes one of those undeniable things ... This is the right thing to do because we have to drag this law into the 21st century," Andrews added on 3AW Radio.
During his term, former premier Denis Napthine would not be swayed by stories of parents with terminally ill children, stating in January the approval of medication is for the Therapeutic Goods Administration under the Federal Government. "They base their decisions on the best medical advice and science. That's the way these decisions ought to be based and I support that process," he said at the time.
It followed the heartbreaking story of Tara O'Connell who suffered up to 200 seizures a day due to a condition called Dravet syndrome and was not expected to see her 10th birthday. With no options left, her mother, Cheri, began using THC-A, a form of medical marijuana, which helped stop the symptoms of epilepsy, such as seizures. THC is administrated by droplets under the tongue and has a low level of THC, which is responsible for the high felt when smoking marijuana.
As leader of the Labor party, before being elected as Victoria's premier, Andrews outlined the legalisation of cannabis for medical purposes as a key policy in his state electoral campaign. It was in this policy the first mention of an August report by the Victorian Law Reform Commission was outlined, while on Friday it was Andrew's first public statement on the matter in the position of premier.
"Many Victorians with terminal illnesses or life-threatening conditions want to use medical cannabis to relieve their pain and treat their conditions, but cannot legally do so," the policy, posted on his website in October, said. "Cannabis oil can have a powerful effect treating very sick children and adults by reducing symptoms, with life-changing results. It can relieve conditions such as cancer, HIV/AIDS, MS, glaucoma and Parkinson’s Disease."
It rules out the recreational use or the smoking of marijuana for medical purposes.
Currently, medical use of cannabis is legal in Canada, Austria, the Netherlands, Israel, Spain, Italy, and over 20 states in the US. If Andrew's policy is implemented, it will be the first part of Australia to allow cannabis for medical purposes.




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