Pubdate: Sat, 17 Oct 2015
Source: Sydney Morning Herald (Australia)
Copyright: 2015 The Sydney Morning Herald
Author: Jane Lee


The Turnbull government wants to make it legal to grow medicinal 
cannabis in Australia this year.

On Friday, Health Minister Sussan Ley said she was finalising changes 
to the Narcotics Drugs Act to allow cannabis to be legally grown for 
medicinal and scientific purposes.

Victoria and NSW state governments have indicated they want to 
legalise medicinal cannabis, and are waiting on a federal regulatory 
scheme to do so.

This comes days after Greens leader Richard Di Natale announced he 
would put a separate cross-party bill on the same issue to the Senate 
next month.

Ms Ley said the government's planned changes would let the Department 
of Health license growers under a new scheme, with obligations and 
legal requirements for states and territories. They would be 
consulted with the Greens, Labor and cross-bench senators, as well as 
the states and territories, "before bringing a final version to 
Parliament by the end of the year".

The model differs from the Greens' proposal, which involves creating 
a new national regulator that would oversee the growth, manufacture 
and distribution of medicinal cannabis. Senator Di Natale has said 
that if their bill was passed, the independent regulator could be set 
up this year.

Health Department Secretary Martin Bowles has previously opposed this 
idea, saying the bill risked "regulatory gap, overlapping laws and a 
lack of clarity about the exercise of jurisdiction by agencies and 
possible inconsistency with other existing laws".

Ms Ley said there were already licensing systems in place to legally 
manufacture and sell medicinal cannabis-based products in Australia 
but nothing to enable production of a "safe and legal" supply.
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MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom