The legislation will provide a comprehensive medical oversight for the prescription of the medicinal cannabis.
The legislation will provide a comprehensive medical oversight for the prescription of the medicinal cannabis. Kelly Butterworth

Medicinal cannabis: Queenslanders given access to drug

PATIENTS with a range of medical conditions will be allowed to access legal medicinal cannabis products in Queensland from March next year.

The State Parliament last night unanimously passed the Public Health (Medicinal Cannabis) Bill 2016, which will allow greater use of medicinal cannabis products for some patients.

The bill was discussed for more than three hours last night.

Health Minister Cameron Dick said certain specialist doctors would be able to prescribe medical marijuana products for patients without needing approval from the health department.

Specialists practising in medical oncology, neurology and palliative care medicine are expected to be the first to be approved.

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Doctors and other medical practitioners who believe that an individual patient may benefit from medical cannabis will be able to apply to Queensland Health for approval to prescribe the drug.

Mr Dick said most of the medical cannabis would be imported from overseas, from Canada or the Netherlands, as it was illegal to cultivate commercial medical cannabis in Australia.

Mr Dick said there was a misconception that the bill only supported the use of synthetic medical cannabis. He said most approvals granted under this bill would be botanically-derived products.

In a statement released after the bill was passed, Mr Dick said the reform was a "game changer for seriously ill patients who often feel compelled to seek out illicit cannabis treatment options".

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During the debate over the bill in Parliament last night, Buderim MP Steve Dickson was praised for his ongoing advocacy for a move towards legalising medicinal cannabis.

Mr Dickson said the bill could be the most important to come before the House in 2016.

"I have been a strong advocate for the use of medicinal cannabis for treating chronic illnesses since the issue was brought to my attention by a local healthcare worker on the Sunshine Coast some 18 months ago," he said.

"In November 2015 I sponsored a parliamentary petition calling for an amnesty relating to the use of medicinal cannabis.

"This petition was signed by over 13,000 Queenslanders in only 24 days. This groundswell of public support has given the mandate, and renewed purpose, to pursue the implementation of a legislative framework for the legalisation of medicinal cannabis."

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