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Australia: Legislation Will Legalize Medical Marijuana Cultivation

AustraliaCannabis[LeafScience]

By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

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.

U.S.: Medical Marijuana Helping To Overcome Painkiller Abuse, Reduce Deaths

OpioidOverdose[Medscape.com]

By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

States with medical marijuana have seen the number of admissions to drug rehab facilities for pain medication and opioid overdoses decrease by 15 percent and 16 percent respectively, according to a new paper from the National Bureau of Economic Research. "Our findings suggest that providing broader access to medical marijuana may have the potential benefit of reducing abuse of highly addictive painkillers," the researchers concluded.

Other studies have examined the relationship between legal cannabis use and opioid overdose rates, but this is the first study to track addiction to opioids, as well, reports Katherine Ellen Foley at Quartz.

The paper builds on previous work showing that "states with medical marijuana laws on the books saw 24.8 percent fewer deaths from painkiller overdoses compared to states that didn't have such laws," reports Christopher Ingraham at The Washington Post. But the new paper's findings are even more compelling -- it uses more data, and the authors drew on a broader range of statistical methods to test the validity of their data.

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