Cannabis has long been identified by governments as a solely recreational drug despite plenty of research and numerous cases supporting the claims of cannabis’ medicinal properties.
In the US, cannabis is still a Schedule I drug, classified in the same category as hard drugs with no recognized medical use such as heroin.
This has stopped researchers in the country from carrying out any meaningful research, as there are a lot of bureaucratic hurdles to go through.
Australia is moving away from this age old, yet unfounded, discrimination in order to help patients access it as a medication.
Medical Marijuana patients can breathe easy now
The changes to make cannabis more accessible to Australians ailed by illnesses are soon to be included into the country’s laws.
Minister of Health Greg Hunt recently announced that he will fast-track the importation of cannabis.
While medical cannabis has been legal in Australia, the local supply does not support their local needs.
Owing to this shortage, importers will be allowed to bring in the medicine from overseas reputable suppliers.
In support of the move, Hunt said that the government was focused on patients with genuine need for cannabis-based medicine.
According to the health minister, the lenient directives for importation will be put in place to facilitate acquisition of high quality, safe, and appropriately sourced medication.
Given that cannabis was only legalized for medical use last year, and that the first permit for private cultivation was only given weeks back, local cannabis growth will need time to develop into a sustainable supply channel.
However, imported cannabis will be available for patients within 8 weeks.
Who stands to gain from more imports?
Cannabis is a treatment that can aid numerous and varied medical conditions.
The scope of illness that can be treated with the medicine is wide including convulsions, chronic pain relief, autism, depression, anxiety, glaucoma, and offsetting the effects of cancer treatments, amongst others.
The list of medicinal benefits is much bigger and with more research, it is hard to tell what new benefits may be revealed.
Aside from assisting ill patients, there are many other beneficiaries set to gain in getting medical cannabis in drug stores.
How to take the medicine
Recreational users may welcome the move as a pass to smoke as it would generally be easier to get your hands on.
However, doctors say that the medication they administer can only be taken as a vaporizer or oil.
Smoking cannabis would be ill advised, noting that the smoke irritates the respiratory tract and causes breathing problems.
Who gets the medicine?
Not just anyone can have the medication.
As the health minister said, greater access is only focused on patients who have their doctor’s go-ahead.
There is a process to go through before you can gain access to the cannabis medication; every patient must be rigorously accessed to justify their need.
Furthermore, patients will have to obtain a letter from their GP reflecting the same, which will be accompanied by a license from the Therapeutic Goods Administration.
With all of the paper work involved, the health sector hopes to curb irresponsible use of cannabis, which could manifest into a problematic scenario if ignored.
Not there yet but headed in the right direction
All the stakeholders privy to the issue agree that making importation an easier process will only benefit those involved.
Even though the current situation is one of shortage on a backdrop of patients who are in desperate need, things are set to change.
The law is not expected to make things better in a day, but the Turnbull administration reiterated doctors’ sentiments that it will soon solve a lot of medical problems.
The sweeping changes will turn the Australian medical sector around once the quantity of medical cannabis increases to a point where medicines can be mass-produced.