Australia could be the next nation to legalise medical marijuana as senators from all the major political parties are set to endorse a bill giving cannabis the green light.
Led by Greens Leader Richard Di Natale, a committee made up of Coalition, Labor and cross-bench senators will strongly recommend that Parliament pass the bill to set up a medical marijuana regulator.
The Regulator of Medicinal Cannabis Bill would effectively make the federal government responsible for overseeing the production, distribution and use of the drug Down Under.
After conducting public hearings around the country and attracting almost 200 public submissions, the committee is due to deliver its report on August 10.
As reported by the Sydney Morning Herald, sources say the committee will back the bill despite strong concerns from the Health Department about potential clashes with existing acts – the Therapeutic Goods Act and the Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs.
Health Department secretary Martin Bowles warned the bill leaves important legal and practical issues unidentified or unresolved, which he believes could lead “to the risk of regulatory gap, overlapping laws and a lack of clarity about the exercise of jurisdiction by agencies and possible inconsistency with other existing laws”.
But sources say the department is just “flexing its muscles” because it doesn’t like the idea of an independent regulator it cannot control.
Senator Di Natale last month conceded there were obstacles to the bill but insisted none of them were insurmountable, pointing to other countries which have managed to legalise medical marijuana without issue. He believes Australia can do the same.
A recent survey by Palliative Care Australia found that more than two-thirds of Australians now back the use of medical marijuana, while just 9% across the country oppose it.
Last year, Australia’s Prime Minister Tony Abbott also threw his support behind the legalisation of the drug.
I have no problem with the medical use of cannabis just as I have no problem with the medical use of opiates.
So some Aussie’s may be able to light up as soon as next month!
The report comes hot on the heels of news that MPs in the UK will have to debate the legalisation of cannabis in the House of Commons after an e-petition surpassed 100,000 signatures.