The long fight to legalise the use of medicinal cannabis has seen success, with Victoria becoming the first state in Australia to legalise its use.
The historic decision was made on Tuesday, with Parliament passing the Access to Medicinal Cannabis Bill 2015.
According to a report by the ABC, Victorian Health Minister Jill Hennessy said children with severe epilepsy will be the first to benefit, gaining access to the drug in 2017.
“We’re starting with these children with severe epilepsy, whose lives have been shown to improve so significantly, because we know these children often don’t make it to adulthood,” Ms Hennessy said.
“We want to improve the quality of their life.”
Up until Tuesday, she says, parents of children suffering from such disorders would have had to purchase the drug illegally.
The legislation has now permitted that cannabis products be manufactured and supplied in a variety of forms, including tinctures, oils, capsules, sprays and vaporisable liquids.
“I just think that in this day and age, it’s unfair and unacceptable to ask a parent to make a decision between obeying the law and acting in the best interests of their child,” said Ms Hennessy.
“Those parents will no longer have that dilemma.”
Helen Kapalos, journalist and chairperson of the Victorian Multicultural Commission, has made no secret of her efforts to raise the profile of marijuana use as medical treatment.
After seeing out her contract at Channel 7, she set out to independently produce her first major documentary titled A Life of its Own.
Released in 2015, the production was inspired by Dan Haslam, a campaigner for medical marijuana, who experienced the benefits first-hand following a course of chemotherapy, before losing his battle to bowel cancer aged 25.
Though the bill has been passed, Ms Hennessy emphasised that access to the drug would be a gradual process, adding that it would eventually be made available through palliative care and those diagnosed with HIV.
The Victorian government will be undertaking a cultivation trial at a Victorian research facility, which is said to be small-scale and strictly controlled.
The manufacture will be overseen by an Office of Medicinal Cannabis, which will be set up by the government.
This will go one step further in educating both doctors about their role and patients about their eligibility.