Victoria has become the first state in Australia to legalise the use of medicinal cannabis.
Children with severe epilepsy will be the first to access the drug in 2017, Victoria's Health Minister Jill Hennessy said, after the Access to Medicinal Cannabis Bill 2015 passed parliament.
The legislation enables the manufacture, supply and access to medicinal cannabis products in the state. The drug will be available in a variety of forms, including tinctures, oils, capsules, sprays and vaporisable liquids and access will be rolled out gradually and eventually made available to palliative care and those with HIV.
The government will establish the Office of Medicinal Cannabis to oversee manufacturing and all clinical aspects of the medicinal cannabis framework. The Office will work with clinicians, doctors and general practitioners to help them understand their role in prescribing medicinal cannabis, and with patients and families to educate them about medicinal cannabis and eligibility for the scheme.
The government is undertaking a small-scale, strictly controlled cannabis cultivation trial at a Victorian research facility to supply products to the first patient group. A key step to providing ongoing access to medicinal cannabis will be the establishment of cultivation and manufacturing industries in Victoria to support an ongoing and reliable supply of products.
Legislation to allow the cultivation of cannabis in Australia for medical or scientific purposes passed Federal Parliament in February.