Australia Set to Legalize Medical Cannabis for Clinical Trials

Australian legislators have introduced a bill to Parliament that would legalize the cultivation of cannabis for medical and scientific use in clinical trials, Reuters reports.

The legislation would provide for the creation of a national regulatory system for the licensing of medical cannabis growers and processors. Patients suffering from painful and chronic conditions would be able to get access to marijuana as part of clinical trials.

Current law prohibits cannabis cultivation, though certain Australian states have decided to begin clinical cultivation trials for medical and scientific purposes. Participants in the clinical trials have so far been forced to depend on costly imported products.

Australian Health Minister Sussan Ley said that “allowing controlled cultivation locally will provide the critical missing piece for a sustainable legal supply of safe medicinal cannabis products for Australian patients in the future.”

The new legislation would not make medical cannabis available to those who are not part of clinical trials, though the country will decide by the end of March as to whether it will modify the criteria for access.

Currently, the country allows patients suffering from chronic pain to access opium, and cannabis could be included in the same category.

Gaelan Bloomfield, manager at MMJ PhytoTech Ltd, Australia’s first publicly-listed medical cannabis company, said that “the market for medicinal cannabis in Australia is substantial. The number of patients that could be targeted could be people with epilepsy, Multiple sclerosis, while there is the other spectrum of people with chronic pain.”

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