Medical Marijuana Comes To The Land Down Under

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Craig Boudreau Vice Reporter
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The Australian Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) will formally legalize medical marijuana in November, The Canberra Times reported Thursday.

It will still be some time before Aussies can start procuring their medicine, as the government finalizes regulations on the new industry.

“There’s also a lot of work to do on educating people and doctors, some of whom remain a bit uncomfortable about prescribing medical cannabis to patients,” Lucy Haslam, co-founder of United in Compassion, a medical marijuana advocacy group, told The Canberra Times.

Haslam is worried that too much “red tape” will make the marijuana pricey, and people may be unable to obtain it at an “affordable price.”

The legalization comes after the Australian government changed its Narcotic Drugs Act in February, and allowed for the plant to be grown for medicinal and scientific purposes. The change to the Drug Act is exactly one year after Daniel Haslam, son of Lucy Haslam of United in Compassion, died of terminal bowel cancer. After his death, his mother started United in Compassion and petitioned the Australian government to make medical marijuana legal.

“It is incredibly fitting that today we are passing this bill which is one step towards making medicinal cannabis accessible to people like Dan,” Australian Sen. Richard Di Natale told CNN in February.

Unlike the Drug Enforcement Administrations drug schedule, where Schedule I drugs are considered the most dangerous, the TGA, which has 10 classifications, uses its scheduling in a reverse order, where 10 is the most dangerous. Medical marijuana will be classified as a Schedule 8 drug, alongside controlled substances codeine, morphine and dilaudid.

Schedule 8 classification, according to the TGA, means the drug has the potential for “physical or psychological dependence,” much like the DEA Schedule I status, where marijuana is listed in America.

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Craig Boudreau