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Why Australia Needs Patient Homegrow Before Adult-Use Cannabis Laws

by Marijuana Staff

Australia is behind many other nations when it comes to sensible cannabis policy reform.

While countries like Canada, Uruguay, and several U.S. states have legalised cannabis for adult recreational use, Australia maintains harsh criminal penalties for possession and cultivation in most jurisdictions.

However, there have been some promising developments for Australian medical cannabis patients in recent years. The federal government passed laws in 2016 allowing legal cultivation, production and manufacturing of medicinal cannabis products. It has been stated in the Senate hearings that there are now over 300,000 patients that have been approved for medical cannabis prescriptions.

But significant barriers remain for patient access. Legal medical cannabis products are incredibly expensive, with many patients paying over $400 per month out-of-pocket. There are also persistent supply issues, with certain products not available for long periods.

This is why Australian patients need legal protection to grow a limited number of plants for personal medical use before any adult-use legalisation is considered. Allowing patient homegrow would immediately increase affordable access, cut costs for those on limited incomes, and bolster product supply.

Home cultivation is already permitted for medical use in many countries and states with legal cannabis programs, including Canada, Israel, the Netherlands, and several U.S. states. With reasonable plant count limits and regulation, patient homegrow has not led to oversupply or adverse public health/safety impacts.

Rather than rushing into a complicated adult-use system that will take years to implement properly, Australian lawmakers could pass narrowly-tailored patient homegrow laws almost immediately. This would provide safe, affordable, and reliable access for thousands of suffering Australians before broader legalisation is eventually phased in.

For a nation that prides itself on pragmatic cannabis policy focused first on medical needs, green-lighting patient homegrow is the obvious next step. It's a smart, compassionate reform that needs to become a reality now, not later.

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