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NSW Government Legalises Medical Marijuana

Doctors in New South Wales can legally prescribe medicinal marijuana to their patients, after Parliament enacted amendments to the regulations last month. Though this is welcome news to medical marijuana advocates, the process to obtain cannabis products is lengthy, complicated and highly regulated.

On 1 August 2016, the NSW Parliament brought into force the Poisons and Therapeutic Goods Amendment (Designated Non-ARTG Products) Regulation 2016, a series of amendments to the Poisons and Therapeutic Goods Act 1966. Previously, medical marijuana was only legally available to participants in clinical trials or through NSW Health’s Terminal Illness Cannabis Scheme.

Though the new regulations further expand access to medical marijuana, availability will still be strictly regulated and difficult to obtain. Under the regulations, a patient who is undergoing chemotherapy or is suffering from terminal illness or chronic pain may begin the process of obtaining medicinal cannabis products. Doctors who are specialists in the disease being treated and are familiar with literature on the effects of medical marijuana may then apply to the Therapeutic Goods Administration (‘TGA’) and NSW Health for permission to prescribe the products.  Each application will be approved by the TGA on a case by case basis based on clinical justifications provided by the doctor.

The NSW regulations follow a nationwide trend towards providing access to medicinal cannabis. NSW is the first state to actually begin allowing doctors to prescribe medicinal cannabis products, albeit in a narrow set of circumstances. However, in April 2016 Victoria became the first state to legalise the manufacture, supply and access to medicinal cannabis products, after the Access to Medicinal Cannabis Bill passed Parliament. It has been announced that children with severe epilepsy will be the first to access to the drug from 2017. Elsewhere, Queensland has announced clinical trials will begin this year, while the ACT and South Australia have already decriminalised possession of cannabis for personal use.

The NSW and Victorian governments have both recognised the potential medical benefits of medicinal cannabis, which can assist in pain relief, muscle control, reducing inflammation and controlling epileptic seizures. The changes to the laws are intended to streamline access to medicinal cannabis products for those who have exhausted all other options.

Image Credit – Jirkaejc ©

Written by Sarah Maddox on October 10, 2016

Sarah’s experience has given her a thorough understanding of the complexities of the criminal justice system and the importance of prompt and accurate advice. Coupled with a comprehensive knowledge of relevant provisions, Sarah is well-positioned to provide you with important preliminary advice and direct your matter to the most suitable advocate within the Criminal Law team. View Sarah's profile

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Contact Armstrong Legal:
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