Victoria to legalise medicinal marijuana

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Victoria to legalise medicinal marijuana

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" ... 2ary3.html - December 19, 2014 - Vanessa Desloires and Lucy Battersby

Victoria to legalise medicinal marijuana

Cooper Wallace, who needs medical cannabis, and his parents Cassie Battena and Rhett Wallace. Photo: Eddie Jim

A bill to legalise medical marijuana could be put to Victoria's parliament before the end of next year, with the Labor government determined to reform the state's drug laws.

Premier Daniel Andrews said on Friday that the Victorian Law Reform Commission had been asked to submit a report in August next year to determine not if, but when and how the laws should change to allow terminally and chronically ill people access to medicinal marijuana.

"It is my hope to have the bills into Victorian parliament before the end of the year," Mr Andrews said on Friday.

Premier Daniel Andrews with Cooper Wallace. Photo: Eddie Jim

He expects to find broad support for the changes among the community and "expert stakeholders", and did not anticipate any problems getting the bill through the Upper House.

"This change has to happen and it will happen under this Labor government," he said at a press conference on Friday outside the home of Cooper Wallace, whose mother, Cassie Batten, was arrested earlier this year after admitting in a television interview that she administered the drug to her disabled and epileptic son. Police have since dropped the case against Ms Batten on advice from the Office of Public Prosecutions.

"No parent should ever have to make a choice between saving their child and obeying the law. That is the definition of a law that is out of date. That is the definition of an area of our law that needs to be reformed and improved for the future," Mr Andrews said.

Premier Daniel Andrews visits Cooper Wallace and his family. Photo: Eddie Jim

He did not expect commercially produced marijuana to be widely available in pharmacies, rather it would be "targeted products towards a small number of patients for a relatively small number of conditions". Nor was the state looking to relax the laws on recreational drug use.

"This is not about the use of illicit drugs that ruin lives, this is about medical cannabis to save lives. They are two very different things," he said.

The government was looking to change the state's Drugs, Poisons and Controlled Substances Act and the Therapeutic Goods Act so federal authorities could start the process of approving medicinal marijuana. People suffering from cancer, HIV/AIDS, MS, glaucoma or Parkinson's Disease could benefit, Mr Andrews said during the election campaign."

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