Best News Stories & Information

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Australia: Calls for legal access to medical use of cannabis

Legal and doctors' groups joined forces on 30 September to call for the legalization of prescription marijuana for people with severe medical conditions. In a joint call the Australian Medical Association (AMA) of New South Wales (NSW) president, Dr Kerryn Phelps, and the president of the Law Society, Ms Margaret Hole, urged the NSW Government to change its drug laws to allow cannabis to be prescribed.

Marijuana would have to be grown legally to support any such move, the convenor of the Australian Committee for Medical Cannabis, Timothy Moore, said. The NSW Law Society and the Australian Medical Association said cannabis for medical use had been legalized in parts of the US and there was no reason this should not happen in Australia. Most State law societies and AMA branches were supporting the move.

Dr. Phelps said many doctors already encouraged patients who used marijuana to relieve their symptoms to continue using the drug. "Common sense dictates that we already have enough evidence for this," Dr Phelps said. "We think there should be exemptions for such people immediately. If marijuana doesn't work for them, they won't use it, and if it has some side effects they won't continue using it. As far as I can see, legalizing prescription marijuana is a win win situation."

"This yields enormous quality of life benefits for some individuals who suffer from diseases or disease treatments that produce impaired appetite or nausea," said Dr. Macdonald Christie, head of pharmacology at the University of Sydney.

NSW Law Society president Margaret Hole said she could see no reason why the law could not be changed to exempt people who needed marijuana for their conditions. "Drug use and abuse is primarily a health and social issue not a criminal one and it should be addressed as such," Ms Hole said. The illegality of cannabis for people for whom it was the only workable palliative treatment was "a human rights issue", Ms Hole said. "If I have a disease, I have a human right to be treated with the best medicine possible."

The NSW Government indicated it would not immediately rule out any move that would decriminalize marijuana for medical use.

(Sources: AAP of 30 September 1999, The Australian of 1 October 1999, Sydney Morning Herald of 1 October 1999)

No comments:

Post a Comment