By Steve Elliott
The Australian government on Tuesday introduced legislation to Parliament that would legalize cannabis cultivation for medicinal or scientific purposes.
The bill would amend the half-century-old Narcotic Drugs Act and create a licensing scheme, reports Rod McGuirk at the Associated Press. Marijuana is currently illegal in Australia, but two states are considering legalizing it for medicinal purposes.
"This government understands that there are some Australians suffering from severe conditions for which cannabis may have some applications and we want to enable access to the most effective medical treatments available," Health Minister Sussan Ley told Parliament.
The bill is guaranteed to become law; the principal opposition party has already pledged support. "In fact, I've had support across the chambers and around the country and I really believe this is bipartisan," Ley said, reports Alexandra Beech at the Australian Broadcasting Corporation.
A 2013 government survey of 24,000 Australians found that 69 percent supported allowing cannabis use for medicinal purposes.