Australia is on the verge of legalizing a nationwide medical marijuana program. The Turnbull Government took action earlier this week to legalize the leaf for medicinal purposes, a plan that would allow the nation to engage in the controlled cultivation and distribution of marijuana products for patients all over the country suffering from serious health conditions.

According to The Independent, a measure put forth by the Liberal Party would amend the Narcotic Drugs Act of 1967 and unleash marijuana from its illegal status in an effort to study its effects on patients in clinical trials, as well as provide access for those under the care of a physician. The measure has received a tremendous amount of support, even from the opposing party, so it is almost guaranteed the bill will become law within the next month. 

Health Minister Susan Ley told Parliament that it was crucial to get behind a progressive plan that would facilitate cannabis research because “the government understands that there are some Australians suffering from severe conditions for which cannabis may have applications and we want to enable access to the most effective medical treatments available.” 

Last year, Victoria became the first state in Australia to legalize cannabis cultivation for the purposes of treating patients suffering from conditions ranging from cancer to chronic pain. However, Ley said in a recent press statement that “creating one single, nationally consistent cultivation scheme, rather than eight individual arrangements, will not only help speed up the legislative and regulatory process, but ultimately access to medicinal cannabis products as well.” 

Australia’s newfound pot regulations will be an interesting spin on the concept of international drug law, especially considering that nearby Southeast Asia is home to some of the most hardcore pot penalties in the world – Singapore and China have put a number of individuals to death over the years for marijuana. However, much like Canada and Mexico, Australia appears focused on breaking ground on the issue of pot reform by working to establish national policies rather than give way to the type of pandemonium currently underway in the United States.

Mike Adams is a contributing writer for HIGH TIMES. You can follow him on Twitter @adamssoup and on Facebook.com/mikeadams73.