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New South Wales to allow medicinal cannabis

New South Wales to allow medicinal cannabis

NZ health select committee expected to push for allowing doctors to prescribe medical cannabis

MAY 20, 2003: New South Wales Premier Bob Carr today announced a "compassionate" scheme to allow the medicinal use of cannabis, with the New Zealand health select committee expected to push for a similar programme here.

"This is a compassionate scheme," Mr Carr told the NSW parliament. "We're talking about people suffering wasting due to cancer and HIV/AIDS, nausea from chemotherapy, severe or chronic pain, muscle spasticity due to Multiple Sclerosis and spinal cord injuries."

Patients will be able to gain access to medical cannabis through a new Office of Medicinal Cannabis within the NSW Health Department.

NORML's spokesperson Chris Fowlie applauded the move, and said New Zealand law already allows a medical practitioner to procure a supply of cannabis for medical purposes under the Medicines Act (sections 25 and 29), and directly import the cannabis for their patients without the need for cannabis being Gazetted as an approved medicine.

"All that is required is Ministerial approval for the medical practitioner. Once this is given, the cannabis can be imported and prescribed and the patient may lawfully consume the cannabis," said Mr Fowlie. "No law change is required, so not even United Future's cruel and heartless objections can stop the government giving the go-ahead."

"Cannabis could be also brought within the schedules of the Medicines Act, or moved to a lower schedule in the Misuse of Drugs Act. This would not require any new legislation and would allow doctors to prescribe medicinal cannabis without having to first ask the minister."

These options are understood to be being considered by the health select committee, which is expected to soon release a report of its inquiry into the legal status of cannabis. Committee chair Steve Chadwick was last month reported as saying the report could recommend allowing doctors to prescribe medicinal cannabis.

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