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Australian economy looks for lift from medical marijuana

As medical marijuana gains more and more acceptance around the globe, both politicians and citizens have warmed up to the idea of cannabis for medicinal...

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|Oct 30|magazine11 min read

As medical marijuana gains more and more acceptance around the globe, both politicians and citizens have warmed up to the idea of cannabis for medicinal purposes.

In the U.S., Illinois will finally begin selling its first batch of medical marijuana after those in favor began pushing for it over 10 years ago. Meanwhile in New York, the state is requiring physicians to complete an unusual educational course before being able to authorize medicinal marijuana for patients.

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Down in the Southern Hemisphere, Australia Federal Health Minister Sussan Ley announced the country will also join the trend by changing its legislation to allow the cultivation of cannabis for medical use by the end of this year.

While the Aussie political parties all are in favor of using marijuana for medical reasons, they all have different views on how to regulate and build the industry.

Recently, the Australian state of Victoria announced it will become the country’s first to allow and manufacture the sale of products containing the main chemical in cannabis, THC, although the state of South Australia began deciminialising low-level marijuana offenses in 1987.

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The nation’s three most populated states Victoria, New South Wales and Queensland have each vowed to hold surveys on the effectiveness of medical marijuana to provide pain relief for those suffering from terminal illnesses, sleep disorders and symptoms stemming from chemotherapy in cancer patients.

States and territories in Australia are not legally allowed to grow or import cannabis for medical use. However, creating a regulatory body would take away a major obstacle in beginning the state trials, which Ley calls the “missing piece” of the process.

“Currently there are already systems in place to license the manufacture and supply of medicinal cannabis-based products in Australia, however there is no mechanism to allow the production of a safe, legal and sustainable local supply,” said Ley. “This has meant Australian patients, researchers and manufacturers have had to try to access international supplies of legal medicinal cannabis crops and products, but limited supplies and export barriers in other countries have made this difficult.

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“Allowing the cultivation of legal medicinal cannabis crops in Australia under strict controls strikes the right balance between patient access, community protection and our international obligations.”

A number of Australian state governments are anticipated to begin growing the plant if the regulation process goes through. In addition, the industry will most likely gain millions for struggling state economies, especially if Australia clears legal hurdles to export marijuana to other countries.

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As an example, 45 percent of the world’s opium used in pharmaceutical painkillers is produced by the Tasmanian poppy industry, which brings in $300 million to the state each year.

Thousands of Aussie campaigners have been pushing for the law to be amended, as they believe it is unfair to criminalize patients who rely on the drug to help with pain. Since the petition on Change.org was launched two years ago, over 246,000 Australians have signed on.

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