The Access to Medicinal Cannabis Bill 2015, was passed on Tuesday 12 April by the Victorian Government and means that Victoria is the first Australian state to permit medicinal marijuana.
By way of background, in December 2014 the Victorian Attorney-General, the Hon. Martin Pakula MP, referred to the Victorian Law Reform Commission for review and report, options for changes to the law to allow people to be treated with medicinal cannabis in exceptional circumstances.
The terms of reference for this inquiry asked the Commission to appoint expert panels specifically to examine prescribing practices and the regulation of the manufacture and distribution of medicinal cannabis. Former MSA CEO, Debra Cerasa, and MS Medical Director, Dr Liz McDonald, each served on one of these expert panels.
MSA and MS Research Australia made a joint submission to the review and MSA was represented at the public hearings.
The review report was completed in August 2015, and released by the Victorian Government in October 2015. The report quotes extensively from our joint submission and the 42 recommendations in the report were in keeping with the approach of MSA to this issue. In short, people with MS were top of the list of those in exceptional circumstances, for whom medicinal cannabis would be allowed.
This lead to the introduction of the Access to Medicinal Cannabis Bill 2015, earlier this week.
MS Australia's National Policy Officer Andrew Giles, said: "We are very pleased that the Victorian Government has responded in this way and further pleased to have been able to make such a positive contribution to this landmark decision to help expand the treatment options available to people with MS.
"Together with the welcome announcements made earlier this year by the Australian Government regarding action to ensure medicinal cannabis is available, we're keen to see a broadening of treatment options to people living with MS in all states and territories across the nation."