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Calls to decriminalise medical cannabis products in ACT

By Libby Kimber

A Canberra woman is calling on the ACT Government to decriminalise the use of cannabis products for medical purposes.

Twenty-one year old Laura Bryant suffers from chronic arthritis, and turned to cannabis oil to treat her severe pain and inflammation when traditional treatments weren’t working.

Despite recent changes to legislation to allow the growth of medicinal cannabis, it is still illegal for Laura to use it.

“I’m technically a criminal,” said Ms Bryant. “It’s infuriating, it’s seriously classified with heroin and meth.”

The legislation, which is an amendment to the Narcotic Drugs Act 1967, introduces a licensing scheme, which will ensure ‘controlled cultivation of cannabis for medical and scientific purposes’.

In a statement the Minister for Health, Susan Ley, said this decision would help Australians access treatment that has not been available to them before.

“For Australia, this is the missing piece in the patient’s journey,” Ms Ley said.

Licensed parties will be able to legally grow cannabis, and distribute it to clinical programs and specialists to ensure that there is a safe, legal and regulated supply of cannabis available for prescription.

The Manager of Public Health at the Australian Medical Association, Simon Tatz, says that current cannabis research and trials need to continue.

“That’s the appropriate way to determine whether this product meets the standards that are needed for approval,” Mr Tatz said.

Ms Bryant says the current laws make it incredibly hard for her to source her ‘miracle cure’, and that without decriminalisation she will run out very quickly.

“It’s pretty scary,” she said. “The pain will get worse and I’ll probably have to stop working for a little bit.”

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