Last week, the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA), Australia’s version of the FDA, announced formal plans to legalize medical marijuana throughout the country this November.
The TGA has recognized the medicinal use of some cannabinoids since 1984, yet Australia’s National Drugs and Poisons Scheduling Committee (NDPSC) has kept cannabis a Schedule 9 controlled substance.
“The scheduling of cannabis and its extracts has been considered by the National Drugs and Poisons Scheduling Committee (NDPSC) on a number of occasions,” the TGA states in a description of the scheduling history. “Currently, cannabis is a Schedule 9 substance, i.e., a prohibited substance which may be abused or misused and the manufacture, possession, sale or use of which is prohibited by law.”
Australia has gone through a similar heart-wrenching legalization process as many other nations, driven by parents illegally treating their epileptic children with cannabis while citizens also openly participate in mass civil disobedience of recreational smoking events as depicted in the video report below.
In January of this year, the TGA launched a public proposal to re-schedule cannabis to allow medical use. The response was overwhelmingly in favor of rescheduling.
35 submissions were received. 27 submissions supported the proposal, 4 submissions opposed, 3 submissions did not state a position, and 1 submission was for information only.
In February, the Australian Parliament passed a measure that allowed medical cannabis to be legally cultivated for medical and scientific purposes. Internet searches for “how to grow weed” surged in Australia.
This week, the TGA delegates decided to down-schedule cannabis and tetrahydrocannabinols (plant, its seeds, its extracts and derivatives of the extracts) from Schedule 9 to Schedule 8 for human therapeutic use.
The use of cannabis will be permitted with a prescription order from a trained physician.
Advocates are celebrating the decision as another step in the right direction, but they warn that regulations could take some time to set up.
The TGA says more studies are needed about cannabis and lists some of the regulatory concerns as follows:
a) the risks and benefits of the use of the substance; b) the purposes for which a substance is to be used and the extent of use of a substance; c) the toxicity of the substance; d) the dosage, formulation, labelling, packaging and presentation of a substance; e) the potential for abuse of a substance; and f) any other matters that the Secretary considers necessary to protect public health.
With this decision, Australia joins a wave of marijuana legalization across the globe.
Despite this growing momentum of common sense, the DEA recently announced its intention to keep cannabis a Schedule 1 drug in the United States alongside heroin and LSD, failing to recognize a single medical benefit from the plant.
The DEA is on the wrong side of history, much like alcohol prohibition was. Before you know it, cannabis strains will be treated like the fine wines of the Australian hills.