Australia’s “most progressive” medicinal cannabis legislation, which would give more sick Queenslanders access to the presently illegal drug, has been released for public comment.
If passed, the Public Health (Medicinal Cannabis) Bill 2016 would create a formal process for Queensland doctors to prescribe medicinal cannabis for their patients’ treatment.
The government last year announced medicinal cannabis trials at the Lady Cilento Children’s Hospital for children with drug-resistant epilepsy.
The Australian Medical Association of Queensland welcomed that trial, but warned against a “laissez-faire” approach to the drug and urged proper scientific trials.
The government’s proposed legislation would go well beyond those localised trials, with Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk saying it was a key step in enabling access to medicinal cannabis.
“This bill will create the most progressive laws in the country,” she said.
“We are setting up a robust framework to ensure medicinal cannabis products can be prescribed and dispensed to patients in Queensland.
“An expert advisory committee will be formed to guide medical practitioners assisting patients in obtaining Commonwealth approval of medicinal cannabis products.”
The legislation, which was expected to be introduced to Parliament in April after a month of consultation, would allow doctors to apply for access to medicinal cannabis with the approval of the Queensland government.
The supply of drugs would still require approval from the Commonwealth Therapeutic Goods Administration.
Health Minister Cameron Dick said people were at the centre of the legislation.
“There are patients out there right now who may benefit from some relief that can be delivered through medicinal cannabis,” he said.
“It’s important we acknowledge that medicinal cannabis is a drug, and should be regulated properly.
“We understand this is substantial reform which is why we are putting out the Bill for community consultation today.”
The bill was made available on the Queensland Health website on Monday night.