Australia legalises medicinal marijuana

The Narcotic Drugs Amendment Act came into force on Sunday

Australia legalises medicinal marijuana

File photo of plants in a cannabis farm | Image: Gareth Fuller / PA Wire/Press Association Images

Australia has legalised the use of marijuana for medicinal purposes after the Narcotic Drugs Amendment Act came into force on Sunday.

The government is also attempting to limit the import of the drug by granting licences to grow the plant although cultivators will have to abide by strict guidelines. The drug will also be listed as a restricted painkiller alongside morphine.  

Speaking to the Canberra Times, ACT Greens leader Shane Rattenbury said: "I am pleased that there has been progress in the ACT over the last 12 months but we must ensure we are not falling behind the national movement," he said.

"There is no good reason why we should not have a fully operational scheme in the ACT within a year."

The illegal cannabis market in the country is estimated to be roughly $100 million and it will remain a criminal offence to use the drug recreationally.

Speaking to the Australian News Network about medicinal marijuana use, Peter McCormick from the University of East Anglia School of Pharmacy said in July 2015: “THC, the major active component of marijuana, has broad medical use — including for pain relief, nausea and anxiety. Our previous research has also found that it could reduce tumor size in cancer patients. However, it is also known to induce numerous undesirable side effects such as memory impairment, anxiety and dependence.”