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Oct 17, 2015 11:33 AM EDT

Australia announces lifting of ban on medical cannabis

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The Australian government has given green signal to the growth of cannabis for medical and scientific purposes, CNN Philippines reports.

Health Minister Sussan Ley said in a statement,

"This Government is incredibly sympathetic to the suffering of those Australians with debilitating illnesses and we want to enable access to the most effective medical treatments available,"

Under the current laws, marijuana is categorized as an illegal drug. However, the penalties vary from state to state.

The government made a statement on Saturday, October 17 that said that the Narcotics Drugs Act 1967 would be amended to allow the drug to be grown locally.

However, the new rule would not breach the country's international obligations as a signatory to the Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs 1961.

A campaign, initiated by retired nurse Lucy Haslam, had been pushing for a change in the Marijuana rules. The campaigners argued that it was not fair to criminalize patients who relied on the drug to ease their pain.

Lucy Haslam 's late son Daniel had used medical cannabis to ease the pain of terminal bowel cancer before his death in February this year at age 25.

More than 246,000 people have signed a petition on Change.org to decriminalize the drug for medical use in the last two years, since it was launched.

After her son's diagnosis, Haslam founded the group "United in Compassion" to campaign for legalized medical cannabis.

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