With a population of approximately 23 million people, Australia has become the first continent to fully legalize marijuana after the nation’s Parliament voted in favor last Wednesday.
Lawmakers have put their seal of approval on amendments to their Narcotic Drugs Act, which creates an authority that will oversee legal cannabis farms and the distribution of marijuana products.
“This is an historic day for Australia and the many advocates who have fought long and hard to challenge the stigma around medicinal cannabis products so genuine patients are no longer treated as criminals,” said Sussan Ley, the Minister of Health, in a statement. “This is the missing piece in a patient’s treatment journey, and [we] will now see seamless access to locally produced medicinal cannabis products from farm to pharmacy.”
The final details of legalization are being worked out still, but patients with valid prescriptions may now grow their own cannabis products and the first crops will likely be planted within months.
There will likely be regulatory issues, but many of them will be worked out quickly. With any luck, Europe, North America, and the rest of the world will swiftly follow suit.