Western Australia legalizes medical marijuana

New Commonwealth legislation making medicinal cannabis a controlled prescription drug comes into effect on November 1, 2016.

Health Minister John Day said while he welcomed the changes, which opened the door for medicinal cannabis to be used as a treatment in certain circumstances, the changes did not legalise the recreational use of cannabis, which remained prohibited.

“Like all controlled drugs, medicinal cannabis will be prescription only, with strict rules around prescribing,” Mr Day said.

“Medical practitioners will be at the centre of all treatment decisions and patients will need to discuss their situation with their treating doctor.

“Only a pharmacist will be able to dispense medicinal cannabis, with supply from any other means remaining illegal in Western Australia.”

The Minister said processes were in place to ensure the appropriate use of medicinal cannabis as a treatment option.

“The focus for the Western Australian Government will be on the safety, efficacy and quality,” he said.

“It is important consumers remain protected from illegal, poorly made or harmful products.

“Products that could potentially be approved will be those in safe and accepted pharmaceutical formulations. Raw cannabis and the smoking of cannabis will not qualify as medicinal cannabis.”

Mr Day said any doctor wishing to prescribe medicinal cannabis would need approval from the Therapeutic Goods Administration and an expert advisory committee, to be established by the Department of Health.

While growers and manufacturers can apply for a licensing permit from November 1, 2016, medicinal cannabis products are not expected to be available for patient use until early 2017.

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