The Victorian Law Reform Commission (VLRC) has published an issues paper on options for changes to the law that would allow people to be treated with medicinal cannabis in exceptional circumstances.
The issues paper provides information about:
·the benefits and risks of cannabis for medicinal purposes
·the experience of countries that allow people to use it
·the interconnected Commonwealth and Victorian laws that could be affected if Victoria introduces its own scheme.
The Victorian Government asked the Commission last December to report on options for change.
The release of the paper marks the beginning of consultations. The VLRC will consult widely with the public and the medical profession before arriving at its final recommendations and reporting to the Attorney-General, the Hon. Martin Pakula MP by 31 August 2015.
Two key challenges are:
- Defining who should be eligible to use cannabis for medicinal purposes — in particular, what are the ‘exceptional circumstances’ in which people should be able to use medicinal cannabis.
- Identifying how extensive any Victorian medicinal cannabis scheme might be.
The Commission is not considering the general decriminalisation of cannabis, only cannabis used for medicinal purposes in exceptional circumstances.
The Chair of the VLRC, the Hon. Philip Cummins AM said: “Thought needs to be given to how a medicinal cannabis scheme would focus most effectively and safely on helping patients. We expect to hear a range of views and we encourage members of the public to make a submission to the Commission.”
Members of the community can read the issues paper and make submissions online at http://www.lawreform.vic.gov.au/projects/medicinal-cannabis/medicinal-cannabis-issues-paper.
Deadline for submissions: 20 April 2015.