Missing piece for medicinal cannabis legislation

THE political journey towards the legalisation of medicinal cannabis cultivation starts today, with the introduction of landmark legislation set to provide the "missing piece" for Australian patients living with painful and chronic conditions.

Minister for Health Sussan Ley said the amendments to the Narcotics Drugs Act 1967 would allow the controlled cultivation of cannabis for medicinal or scientific purposes through one single national licensing scheme - an Australian first.

Ms Ley said, if passed, this legislation would open the way for Australians with painful and chronic conditions to get access to the relief they needed where this was determined by their doctors to be of potential benefit.

"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," Ms Ley said.

"For Australia, this is the missing piece in a patient's journey.

"Importantly, having a safe, legal and reliable source of products will ensure medical practitioners are now at the centre of the decision making process on whether medicinal cannabis may be beneficial for their patient."

Ms Ley said the Turnbull Government had worked closely with the states and territories, law enforcement agencies and other stakeholders over the past eight weeks to ensure this legislation was "robust" before bringing it to Parliament to give it the best chance of a smooth passage.

"I am also aware of the passion of many MPs and Senators from all sides of politics towards making this happen and I thank them for their contributions so far," Ms Ley said.

"I sincerely hope the Parliament can continue to work together to pass this legislation in a bipartisan fashion as quickly as possible in the interest of Australian patients seeking access to medicinal cannabis."

While there are already provisions in place allowing the legal production and distribution of medicinal cannabis products to patients through various means, Australia does not have a safe, legal and reliable supply of locally-grown cannabis to allow the manufacture of therapeutic products.

Ms Ley reminded Australians today's announcement did not relate to the decriminalisation of cannabis for general cultivation or recreational use, which remained a law enforcement issue for individual states and territories.

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