WA govt's medicinal cannabis move welcomed


Medicinal cannabis is expected to be available for patient use in Western Australia next year after new Commonwealth legislation makes it a controlled prescription drug on November 1.

Health Minister John Day said on Friday the medical community was divided in its views about medicinal cannabis but he'd long believed cannabinoids scientifically proven to have therapeutic value should be available to patients under strict controls.

"This change in legislation nationally will have the effect of making it available in controlled circumstances but probably not until well into next year ... I think is an appropriate step forward," Mr Day told 6PR radio.

"No way are we normalising the recreational use of cannabis through this change."

Opposition Leader Mark McGowan said he was pleased the Barnett government had made the decision but it had been "dragged kicking and screaming to follow our lead".

"I've always been a supporter of medicinal cannabis ... we've been calling for this for years," Mr McGowan told reporters.

"Rest assured if WA Labor is elected in March, I will make this a priority to bring this in as soon as possible."

Greens health spokeswoman Lynn MacLaren said the party was pleased the WA government had reversed its "archaic" position, adding the new industry would bring huge economic benefits.

Epilepsy WA chief executive Suresh Rajan said the next step should be adding medicinal cannabis to the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme to make it affordable.

"As a rough estimate based on what we've seen of products so far, we're looking at costs of somewhere between $300 and $1000 a month, depending on the severity of the condition and the dosage you need," he said.