Canberra, Oct 17 (IANS) The Australian government on Saturday announced plans to allow cannabis to be legally grown for medical and scientific purposes, the media reported.
Under current laws, marijuana is classified as an illegal drug, and while penalties vary from state to state, people who grow, use, possess or sell it can be fined or sent to prison, CNN reported.
In a statement, the government said it would allow the drug to be grown locally.
“This Government is incredibly sympathetic to the suffering of those Australians with debilitating illnesses and we want to enable access to the most effective medical treatments available,” Health Minister Sussan Ley said.
Campaigners had been pushing for a change, arguing that it was unfair to criminalise patients who relied on the drug to ease their pain.
More than 245,000 people have signed a petition on Change.org to decriminalise the drug for medical use since it was launched two years ago.
It was initiated by retired nurse Lucy Haslam, whose late son Daniel used medical cannabis to ease the pain of terminal bowel cancer before his death in February at the age of 25.