In March 2015, the Commission published an issues paper on medicinal cannabis that provided background information about the benefits and risks of using cannabis for medicinal purposes, the experience of other countries that allow people to use it, and the interconnecting Commonwealth and Victorian laws that could be affected if Victoria introduces its own scheme. It included a request for public submissions (which are now closed). A pdf of the issues paper can be downloaded below.
There are two central questions in the review.
•Who should be eligible to use cannabis for medicinal purposes?
The terms of reference ask the Commission to identify options for allowing people to be treated with medicinal cannabis in exceptional circumstances. Although medical knowledge about the therapeutic properties of cannabis is evolving rapidly, it is incomplete. It is nevertheless apparent that medicinal cannabis holds considerable potential for many different areas of treatment, and some Victorians are already turning to it for relief.
In determining who should be allowed to use cannabis for medicinal purposes, it is important to have regard to the current state of clinical knowledge about the benefits, efficacy, risks and dangers in the context of ensuring that patients receive treatment that is therapeutic and safe.
•How extensive should any Victorian medicinal cannabis scheme be?
The simplest legal solutions are not the best health solutions. Developing options for legislative change is not merely a technical exercise in removing some of the existing prohibitions on possessing and using cannabis; it is also necessary to build an avenue of health care. Thought needs to be given to how the scheme could focus most effectively on helping the patient.
A comprehensive medicinal cannabis scheme could be introduced, in collaboration with the Commonwealth. A more limited scheme could be introduced by Victoria acting alone.
Subsequently, the Commission reported to the Attorney-General in August 2015.