Patients suffering chronic and painful illnesses are a step closer to accessing medicinal cannabis.
Legislation allowing the controlled cultivation of the plant for medicinal or scientific purposes through a national scheme will be introduced to parliament by the Turnbull government on Wednesday.
Health Minister Sussan Ley wants the laws passed in this sitting, saying it will open the way for sick Australians to get access to relief.
The government had worked closely with the states and territories, law enforcement agencies and stakeholders over the past eight weeks to ensure a smooth passage through parliament, she said.
“This is an important day for Australia and the many advocates who have fought long and hard to challenge the stigma around medicinal cannabis products,” she said.
“For Australia, this is the missing piece in a patient’s journey.”
There are already laws allowing legal production and distribution of medicinal cannabis, Ms Ley says but Australia doesn’t have a safe, legal and reliable supply of locally-grown cannabis.
She said creating one nationally-consistent cultivation scheme, rather than having separate ones in each state and territory, would speed up access to medicinal cannabis.
A national regulator will allow government to monitor medicinal cannabis from cultivation to supply and curtail attempts by criminals to get involved, she said