When it comes to the global marijuana debate, one country that has received a firestorm of media attention is Australia, our distant friend in the Pacific. As of early 2016, the Land Down Under officially legalized medical-grade cannabis for patients suffering from debilitating health conditions. Likewise, just a little while ago, scientists on the East Coast of the country initiated the first clinical trial focusing on the effectiveness of marijuana accompaniment therapy for brain cancer patients. While hundreds of thousands of people can get the help they need, however, the government is still taking extreme care to prevent abuse. Nevertheless, the Australian cannabis community is celebrating, and the island of Tasmania, in particular, celebrated the plant’s healing benefits earlier this year. Let’s take a closer look at how this Australian state is tackling medical marijuana.

Tighter Hold

Unlike Canada, which distributes marijuana in tiny $5 packages, Australia distributes medical cannabis to patients through the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA), a Department of Health agency responsible for the supervision and distribution of (of course) therapeutic products ranging from medicine to sunscreen. However, on August 31, 2016, the TGA made headlines after it dropped medical marijuana from a Schedule-9 (illegal) to a Schedule-8 (controlled) status.

Breaking Boundaries

Needless to say, residents of the Australian State of Tasmania have directed their attention to a special case that pioneered a cause for medical cannabis on their island (and in their country). Since the age of 2, Tasmania resident Joe Dick has suffered from debilitating epileptic seizures which, in the worst case scenario, led to broken or shattered bones. According to his mother, Kaye, Joe was once sent to a Hobart hospital for a fractured collarbone and a broken orbit bone (around the eye). However, Joe has found relief from an unlikely source: marijuana. In fact, Joe Dick was one of the first Tasmanians to receive approval for medical cannabis use (in 2017).

Tasmanians, In General

So what does this mean for other Tasmanians (or other Australians, for that matter)? For many men and women, the little green plant could actually ensure a longer lifespan. For example, 57-year old Wendy Latimer suffers from a terrifying form of epilepsy (experiencing 1 grand mal and 100 petit mal seizures every day), but her use of the fragrant, mind-altering herb actually diminishes these attacks. In response to cases like Joe’s and Wendy’s, medical professionals are assessing patients in their homes to determine how effective the cannabis plant can be and to cross-reference the plant’s strength with more commonly used drugs. Overall, the incidents in Tasmania are breakthroughs in science.

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