AN ARTICLE published in the Medical Journal of Australia has re-ignited the debate over the use of cannabis for medicinal purposes.
The latest edition of the peer-reviewed journal, published by the Australian Medical Association has an article that argues for "the national acceptance of medicinal cannabis".
It "should be implemented based exclusively on evidence of its clinical efficacy, safety and cost-effectiveness, and that necessary legal reforms permitting medical prescription should be enacted, as has been done in many countries," the authors said.
"The medicinal use of cannabis was prohibited in Australia some 50 years ago, at a time when scientific knowledge about it was meagre.
"It is now clear that cannabis has genuine medicinal utility... but this has been largely overlooked, with research and society's attention in most parts of the world being directed towards the hazards of its recreational use rather than the benefits of its medicinal use.
"We maintain that consideration of policy for medicinal cannabis should be kept separate from consideration of recreational cannabis."
Not surprisingly, local advocates for medical cannabis have welcomed the journal's contribution to the debate, but say they are still disappointed a NSW parliamentary committee report that unanimously recommended making medical cannabis available under certain conditions was rejected.
"Premier Barry O'Farrell's argument that there was no proof of its medicinal uses was just nonsense. That sort of thinking is stuck in the 1950s," said HEMP Embassy president Michael Balderstone.
"I do think the changes in America have to filter through at some point because Australia is being left behind."
Mr Balderstone said it was good to have the support of a "mainstream, conservative" organisation such as the Australian Medical Association.
"It's another thing against the interests of the pharmaceutical companies who are the strongest lobbyists against freeing the weed.
"They don't want a plant that you can grow in your backyard that can get rid of a headache. Making the best painkillers on the planet illegal was a strategic move," he said.
ORGANISERS of Nimbin's annual MardiGrass Festival have invited the president of Uruguay, Jose Mujica, to next year's event.
Last week Uruguay became the first country in the world to legalise the sale, cultivation, and distribution of marijuana, giving its citizens over the age of 18 who register for it the right to buy 40g per month through pharmacies.
President Mujica and supporters wanted to take the trade out of the hands of drug cartels.
MardiGrass vice president Max Stone said he has had lengthy conversations with the Uruguayan embassy and they were "thrilled with the invitation".
The head of Uruguay's National Drug Board, Julio Calzada, who will oversee the implementation of the world's first legal marijuana market, was also invited.
"We have invited them to talk about the pitfalls and problems on the road to legalisation, but these are the people who are willing to stand up to the drug cartels," Mr Stone said.
"They had a big conference that included the community and experts from other countries. There was a robust debate for about a year. It will be government controlled."
The Uruguayan embassy said they would get back to MardiGrass organisers with an official response.
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