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Even though Australia legalized medical marijuana in 2016, treatment for chronic patients remains surprisingly hazy. Despite multiple steps by the government, patients are having a hard time getting their hands on this once taboo medicine. On top of having to undergo a rigorous screening process to receive prescriptions, there isn’t enough marijuana to treat them. Due to scarcity; patients have to wait months for their medicine to be imported from other countries. As soon as it comes in, they must start the application process again.
On top of being dysfunctional, this system isn’t sustainable. Daunted by the sheer amount of paperwork, many potential patients are turning to local drug dealers to get their medicine. To try and discourage patients from turning to the black market, the Australian government has made a slew of compromises. In early 2017, Health Minister Greg Hunt loosened importation laws for such patients. These measures aimed to ease access until domestic production was able to satiate local needs. Now that Canada has legalized marijuana federally, they will soon become Australia’s biggest importer of cannabis.
Even though importation will temporarily keep the patients medicated, the future is domestic cultivation. Locally grown cannabis is already available in Victoria, and many states are following suit. Conservative GP’s such as Teresa Towpik have advocated that growing this would create jobs for farmers, distributors and pickers. As the stigma of this global medicine slowly fades away, you cannot ignore the potential bonanza. In the next few years, Australians can expect more medical marijuana to grow within their borders.
On top of easing up importation and cultivation requirements, the prescription of medical marijuana need to streamline. Currently, patients have to undergo rigorous assessment from a licensed physician. From there, they need to acquire a letter from their GP and receive an importation permit from the Therapeutic Goods Administration. These measures are unnecessarily slow and expensive to complete. Due to these dysfunctional guidelines, only 380 Australians are such patients.
In a country where thousands are in need of treatment, this statistic is unacceptable. To shed some light on how more Australians who need treatment can get prescriptions, we listed the guidelines by territory. It’s definitely not for everyone, but if one person in need gets relief this measure is worth it. Fluctuations are there what it takes to get a medical marijuana prescription in Australia!
• Victoria: Ever since early 2017, medical marijuana has been legal in the state to treat children with severe epilepsy.
• ACT: In 2017, citizens with category 6 illnesses that meet certain criteria can apply for medical marijuana prescriptions.
• Queensland:Physicians can prescribe cannabis to patients with a slightly larger range of conditions. These include MS, epilepsy, cancer, and HIV/AIDS.
• NSW: Adults with end-of-life illnesses can apply for medical marijuana access.
• Tasmania: This island state has taken one of the most liberal approaches to medical marijuana. In 2017, the Controlled Access Scheme give access to unregistered medicinal cannabis. In Tasmania, no legislative changes were requested to the bill.
• WA: As of November 2016, doctors could legally prescribe marijuana under certain conditions. While this definition is broad, it’s still relatively hard to attain.
• NT: In this territory, access to medical marijuana is not legal to patients with certain medical conditions.
• SA: Just like in WA, the prescription of medical cannabis is largely up to the doctor’s discretion. In November 2016 doctors can prescribe medical marijuana under certain conditions.
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