On 26 April 2016, the Victorian Parliament assented the Access to Medicinal Cannabis Act 2016 (No. 20 of 2016). The main purposes of this Act are:
According to the second reading speech by Ms Hennessy, this Act is an Australian first:
"The Access to Medicinal Cannabis Act allows for the lawful cultivation and manufacture of safe and reliable medicinal cannabis products to help Victorians in exceptional circumstances.
Many Victorians with terminal illnesses or life-threatening conditions want to use medicinal cannabis to relieve their pain and treat their conditions, but cannot do so legally."
In December 2014, the Attorney-General referred the matter of medicinal cannabis to the Victorian Law Reform Commission and asked them to advise how the law in Victoria can be changed to legalise and regulate the use of medicinal cannabis for patients in exceptional circumstances. The Victorian Law Reform Commission reviewed and made recommendations on who should be eligible to use medicinal cannabis, prescribing practices and the regulation of the manufacturing and distribution of medicinal cannabis products. The Victorian Law Reform Commission's Medicinal Cannabis report was tabled in Parliament on 6 October 2015 with the government accepting all 42 recommendations, two accepted in principle. This report is now acting as a roadmap to legalising access to medicinal cannabis for Victorians in exceptional circumstances.
According to the Second Reading Speech:
"The current law is confusing and complex, and has not kept up with the views of the community, with surveys showing the overwhelming majority of Australians believe the use of cannabis for medicinal purposes should be legal."
As such, the new Act will:
As a priority, the Act provides that children with severe epilepsy will be eligible to access government-produced medicinal cannabis from a date to be proclaimed, most likely in early 2017. It empowers the Victorian government to prescribe other eligible patient groups to access commercially produced products on a later date to be proclaimed (most likely in 2018).
It is intended that medicinal cannabis products will not be available in a form that can be smoked, in line with the election commitment and the Victorian Law Reform Commission's report. This Act also does not lift the prohibition on cannabis used for non-medicinal purposes.
The Act is currently awaiting commencement proclamation.
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Access to Medicinal Cannabis Act 2016 and related materials associated with Bill as reproduced on TimeBase LawOne
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