AUSTRALIA’S health ministers have weighed in on a new law that will see recreational cannabis use legalised in New South Wales and Victoria, amid growing concerns about its impact on the nation’s fragile health system.
Key points:Medical marijuana is already legal in NSW and Victoria but only for medicinal purposes, with a two-year transition periodThe move comes after more than 100 people died from the disease and is expected to have a significant impact on Australia’s health systemThe government says it will provide a transition period for patients to get their medicinal cannabis on an open market to ensure the new laws are not overly restrictive, and that the legislation is backed by experts in health and medicineThe move is likely to be met with mixed reactions, with some arguing that the move will result in a “tipping point” for the industry, while others say that it is simply the best way to keep the cannabis industry alive.
Key Points:A spokesperson for the Victorian Health Minister, Paul Hegarty, told the ABC the Victorian Government would work with the Commonwealth Government to “protect public health” in a number of areas, including “preventing the diversion of cannabis to the illicit market and supporting the medical use of cannabis.”
“We are confident that this legislation will ensure that our community is protected from the harms of the cannabis market,” the spokesperson said.
“In the end, it will be up to the individual patients to decide whether to seek medical cannabis or not.”
The announcement came after a report by the federal Department of Health and Human Services that found that people aged 20 to 64 had a higher risk of dying from the COVID-19 coronavirus, with more than 1,300 Australians dying of the disease.
“The government is committed to ensuring the safety and security of our people and their families while we take this important step,” the statement said.”[The] federal government will work closely with the Victorian government to ensure that the new legislation is not overly restricted and that it will not unnecessarily restrict access to medical cannabis.”
The Victorian Government has been working with the federal Government on the transition period, with the spokesperson saying the transition was “well in advance” of the law taking effect on July 1.
Under the new law, cannabis will be made available to patients aged 18 and over, with access capped at two kilograms.
However, people who have been prescribed cannabis by a doctor can continue to use it up until they are at least 18.
“We’re going to work with them to ensure they can continue with their prescriptions, but at the same time we want to ensure we have enough of a supply of the product to support the community in that period,” the NSW Health Minister said.
The announcement comes after a number 100 people have died and more than 200 have been diagnosed with COVID.
In Victoria, the Department of Primary Industries has released the recommendations for the transition from recreational cannabis to medical marijuana.
The guidelines recommend that cannabis be sold in licensed outlets and that only people with an exemption from the medicinal use of medicinal cannabis should be allowed to use the drug.
The new legislation will also provide a two year transition period in which patients can legally access medicinal cannabis, with patients aged 21 to 80 able to use cannabis at home.
The Department of Education and Training has said it is also supporting the Victorian and New South Welsh governments’ transition to medical pot.
The transition will start from July 1, 2020, and will last until the Victorian Parliament is dissolved.
“It’s going to be a long transition period,” NSW Education Minister John Robertson told ABC Radio Melbourne.
“But I think what we can see is a lot of people, particularly those who are the older generation, who have had some of their lives disrupted by the illness, and it’s something they’ve come to terms with.”
“There’s going, obviously, to be some anxiety that it’s going up the queue.”
The federal government has also said it will ensure the transition is “well-funded” and has asked the Victorian Minister for Education and Skills, Scott Emerson, to prepare the legislation for passage by December.
“As we’ve said, we will work with Victoria to ensure it’s well-funded, well-designed and has a long-term safety plan,” Mr Emerson said.