Recreational cannabis is prohibited in Australia, but its medicinal use has been legal since February 2016, although patients needing the plant for therapeutic reasons have encountered many issues when it comes to actually accessing it. In 2017 its cultivation was approved, and just this year, 2018, the export of Australian cannabis products was approved.
In this post we´ll tell you more about the cannabis situation in this country of Oceania.
Recreational Cannabis, a pending issue
Although recreational cannabis is illegal in Australia, it is the substance most consumed by its citizens. The growth, sale and transport of cannabis for recreational ends is prohibited and may be penalised in all parts of the country, but in 2012, a study carried out by the UN revealed that the countries with the greatest number of cannabis consumers worldwide were Australia, New Zealand, North America, and various parts of Western Europe.
There is no national law against cannabis related crime, each state has its own legislation. However, it is not a country known for its punitive nature, and in some areas, if you are caught carrying a small quantity, you will receive just a caution or fine, or possibly have to take part in an education program.
A few months ago, the current Australian Health Secretary stood against the proposal presented by the Green Party to legalise recreational cannabis. Greg Hunt said that the plant was a gateway to other substances such as amphetamines. “Our job is to protect the health of Australians and this action by the Green Party puts their health at risk”. The leader of the Green Party, Richard Di Natale, declared that “the war on drugs is a war on people” and that is why it was necessary to end the prohibition of recreational cannabis in Australia. As well as the Green Party there are other political parties such as HEMP (Help End Marijuana Prohibition ) who are working towards the end of cannabis prohibition in Australia.
Medicinal Cannabis, a reality
From February 2016 medical cannabis has been legal in Australia at a federal level, thanks to the Narcotics Amendment Law. This law included changes to the Narcotics Act of 1867 and a minor change to the Therapeutic Products Act of 1989. According to what we read in Cannabis Consulting Australia this new legislation defines three Commonwealth licenses and permits, which can be granted to allow the production of medicinal cannabis in the country.
The first is a cannabis research license/permit which allows the owner to grow, produce , package, store and transport plants and/or cannabis resin for research purposes.The second is a medicinal cannabis license/permit that allows the same as a medicinal research license, and the third is a manufacturing license/permit which allows the titleholder to convert cannabis and/or resin into medicines for research or medical use.
This law was made possible thanks to Sussan Ley, who at that time was Health Minister . She also approved amendments allowing cultivation of the plant in the country, without causing conflict with international treaties. Sussan Ley declared to the media that she took this decision after hearing first hand stories of citizens with serious illnesses, who were using cannabis to treat them.
This Australian medicinal cannabis regulation has not been a bed of roses for users, who have had various day to day complications. In addition to cannabis only being prescribed on a case by case basis, supplies of the plant came from outside the country and were highly limited. To make matters worse, prices were exorbitant and a lack of information by health personnel at the beginning was the norm. Authorization from a doctor was necessary in order to access the plant.
Australia to export its own cannabis products to other countries
A year later, at the start of 2017, local production was approved, and also a faster supply of imported products for the patients that needed them urgently whilst the plantations were growing.
In 2018 the exportation of medicinal cannabis to other countries was approved. And that Minister of Health who felt that cannabis could be a gateway to other substances, has declared that he hopes that the country will be the main supplier of medicinal cannabis worldwide. The types of cannabis products to be exported are varied, oils from a plant base, tablets, patches and aerosoles to name just a few...