A BRIEF HISTORY
In the 1800s, cannabis was used briefly as a medicinal herb—assisting with asthma, menstrual cramps, insomnia, birth labour, migraines, throat infection and withdrawals from opiate use.
“Cannabis was removed from the register of medicines in the early twentieth century in the USA and made illegal at around the same time.” (Copeland and Clement, 2014)
In the past 20 years there has been an increasing focus internationally on the potential use of cannabis for treatment options: specifically regarding pain and nausea experienced by cancer patients undergoing treatment, HIV and other wasting diseases, rheumatoid arthritis, peripheral neuropathic pain and also patients experiencing nightmares associated with PTSD.
With studies being conducted over the past two decades, cannabis has been available for use for medicinal purposes in 22 US states, including the district capitol—with no controls on quality, dosage or safety of the product or its delivery system.
The debate about the legalization of cannabis for both medicinal and recreational purposes in Australia has been growing.
As of this last month, Marijuana has been made accessible for medicinal purposes in selected states across Australia. In November of last year, it became legal for Australian’s to grow and cultivate marijuana, provided that they have proof of supplying to a researcher or organisation.
Use of cannabis for the treatment of epilepsy and cancer or chronic/terminal illness remains illegal in WA, SA, and NT.
Queensland is really paving the way for Australia’s medical future, providing access to treatment for those who need it most.
For anyone who wishes to grow and cultivate marijuana, they must apply for a licence and pass a “fit and proper” test. Australia is looking for local supplies, since importing from overseas takes around 30-60 days, requiring import and export permits.
Cann Group- a Melbourne based company, has been granted a license for research regarding medical properties of marijuana, testing this on animals, and are now in the process of applying for a permit for cultivation. The chairman, Allan McCallum says that once this has been granted, they will probably be 6-12 months away from commercial production. (Claughton, 2017)
We’ve come a long way and it’s really great to see that people who are suffering are really going to get the help that they need. But what do we know about the legalization process—are individuals really gaining the access to this drug that they require?
At present, there is only one patient in Queensland using medicinal marijuana. Unfortunately for many, the cannabis oil is too expensive to buy legally and is not on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme.
So while it’s known that Australia has legalized marijuana for medicinal purposes, this is not across the board and many people are still suffering due the lack of access.
This is where my investigation comes in.