Labor welcomes the Governments introduction of medicinal cannabis legislation but much more must be done.
Bill Shorten has been calling for a national licencing scheme for nearly six months - Labor's pleased the Government is finally listening.
According to reports the Bill amends the Narcotics Drug Act to establish licensing arrangements for the cultivation, manufacturing and supply (e.g. dispensing) of medicinal cannabis.
The introduction of this Bill is welcome, however the Government must address several glaring gaps in its scheme.
The decriminalisation of the possession and use of cannabis for medicinal purposes is a matter for the Commonwealth, state and territory governments.
Establishing a comprehensive licensing system for medicinal cannabis is one thing; but this doesnt address the problem of people legally possessing and using the drug for medicinal purposes.
The Health Minister has still not said whether or not the Government will lead the way in ensuring nationally consistent laws that will actually allow people to legally access and use medicinal cannabis across Australia.
Until this occurs we face the prospect of geographic discrimination when it comes to medicinal cannabis.
Whether or not a person with a life threatening illness can benefit from medicinal cannibas will depend completely on the postcode in which they live.
The Government must play a leadership role so that this does not happen. This involves coordinating state and territory reform of criminal laws to exempt eligible people, like those with a terminal illness, from prosecution for possession and use.