Some of the our most unwell Australians will get a new kind of relief within weeks, thanks to Canberra giving the green light to selling medicinal cannabis products.
Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt says approved importers will be able to buy the medication from overseas and store it in Australia for immediate distribution until domestic production meets local needs. "Our objective is to have it available within eight weeks. It will be provided by private companies, and at the moment they're just going through that process."
The move will make it easier for patients who now must wait for the product to be imported once prescribed by an authorised doctor.
Hunt has also highlighted the life changing benefits of this kind of system. "This is about making sure patients have access to a legally obtainable medicine through legitimate sources to deal with crippling pain. This is an important day for families with very difficult conditions and terrible pain, particularly for those who are sometimes nearing the end of their life."
Local production was only legalised late last year, while the first licence for private cultivation was only issued last week.
Patients previously had to wait months for products to be shipped from overseas which drove many to the black market.
According to the Cancer Council, medicinal cannabis may be used to treat the following health symptoms:
- in relieving nausea and vomiting in patients undergoing chemotherapy;
- as an adjunctive analgesic in patients with moderate to severe pain; and/or
- as an appetite stimulant for cancer patients experiencing weight loss and muscle wasting.
It's definitely seen as a healthier alternative to smoking the drug, as fewer carcinogens are inhaled.