Terminally ill Canberra residents will be allowed to use marijuana to ease their pain if a proposal by the ACT Greens is adopted.
Shane Rattenbury, a member of the ACT legislative assembly, has released draft legislation and a discussion paper for legalising medical cannabis. But he will need support from either the Labor government or the Liberal opposition to get it through the territory's legislature. Rattenbury is hoping community feedback over the next couple of months will help sway the major parties.
Under the proposal, the drug could be used by residents who are expected to die within a year, those with chronic illnesses such as cancer or Aids, and those whose doctors say cannabis could mitigate symptoms of continuing medical conditions. Anyone wanting to use the drug would have to get a medical declaration from their doctor and apply for a one-year usage permit from the chief health officer. The health officer would also issue permits to allow people to grow small amounts of cannabis for their personal use. People convicted of a drug offence within five years could not apply.
The scheme is similar to one proposed by a NSW parliamentary committee in 2013 and does not set up any system for selling the drug or government quality control. Rattenbury is taking feedback on his proposal until 15 September and is confident the Canberra community will support the scheme out of compassion for the sick.
Keep up-to-date with drug policy developments by subscribing to the IDPC Monthly Alert.