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Australian State Assembly Allows Medical Marijuana


December 1994

The Australian Capital Territory (A.C.T.) Legislative Assembly passed a bill Nov. 30 allowing medical patients to possess or grow marijuana for their own use ("Dope Smoking OK for Medicinal Purposes Only," Australian Associated Press, Nov. 30, 1994).

Under the measure, a doctor must keep a record of the patient, and the patient may grow up to five plants or possess up to 25 grams of the drug. Caregivers of people under doctor's supervision to use marijuana would not be prosecuted.

Federal government sources promised to challenge the decision, which they said was hastily made (Jacqueline Fuller, "Labor Disquiet at ACT Move for Dope on Prescription," The Canberra Times, Dec. 1, 1994, p. 1).

Federal Health Minister Carmen Lawrence said the bill, which passed by a 9-8 vote, was "an ill-considered and poorly thought-through act to allow doctors to prescribe something for which there is no legal supply." She has asked her department to determine if the ruling violates the country's obligations under United Nations drug treaties.

The vote created partisan political pandemonium in the A.C.T. Assembly.