Cannabis laws clear parliament

By Belinda Merhab

On the one-year anniversary of medicinal cannabis campaigner Dan Haslam's death, parliament has passed laws allowing the cultivation of medicinal cannabis.

Senators paid tribute to the tireless efforts of Mr Haslam's mother, Lucy, who was instrumental in campaigning for change after medicinal cannabis helped her son with severe nausea brought on by his chemotherapy treatment.

The laws cleared the upper house on Wednesday, one year after her son died following a five-year battle with bowel cancer.

"Lucy, this wouldn't have happened without your contribution," Greens leader Richard Di Natale told parliament.

"Your family's grief, your family's pain and suffering, has not been in vain."

Rural Health Minister Fiona Nash said the "missing piece" laws allowed patients access to medicinal cannabis legally cultivated and manufactured in Australia.

The health department is also considering rescheduling medicinal cannabis, which is still classified as an illicit drug.

Labor and the Greens welcomed the laws as a good first step, acknowledging there was still a long way to go before patients could legally use medicinal cannabis.

"No family should have to choose between getting their loved one the medicine they need and breaking the law," Labor frontbencher Katy Gallagher said.

Liberal Democrat David Leyonhjelm said it was time Australia legalised recreational cannabis use as well.

Most people had tried at it some point, including him, and US President Barack Obama, he said.

"It is not a legitimate use of government power to prohibit adults from doing something that does not harm others," he said.

Health Minister Sussan Ley said the Therapeutic Goods Administration had undertaken public consultation on down-scheduling medicinal cannabis with an interim decision due in March.

"This will simplify arrangements around the legal possession of medicinal cannabis products, placing them in the same category as restricted medicines such as morphine, rather than an illicit drug."

That would reduce barriers to access, no matter what state a patient lived in, she said.

An independent advisory committee would also be established to oversee the next stage of the rollout.

Lucy Haslam thanked politicians for listening to the people and making Australia a better place for thousands of sufferers.

"We've shown that politicians can't ignore people power."