Australia Pushes for Easier Cannabis Access in Face of “Hidden” Opioid Epidemic

Medical cannabis advocates in Australia are calling for easier access to medicinal marijuana products, citing reports that deaths from sleeping and anxiety pills have become a “hidden epidemic.”

Reports Show Opioid Deaths in Australia Are On the Rise

A recent report released by the Penington Institute showed that deaths from sleeping and anxiety pills, opioids, and methamphetamine have all risen sharply in Australia.

Penington Institute chief executive officer John Ryan said the figures were alarming. “We are seeing a surge of drug overdose deaths and this is concerning,” he said.

According to a separate report, opioid-related deaths in Australia nearly doubled from 2007 to 2016. The National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre at UNSW in Sydney released a report stating that 1,045 Australians died of opioid overdoses in 2016. Of the 1,045 opioid overdose deaths, 76 percent were attributed to pharmaceutical opioids.

Australians Want Easier Access to Medical Cannabis

Manufacturers of alternative medicines say medical cannabis products should be made more accessible to patients as an alternative to opioids and other pharmaceuticals. Medicinal marijuana has been legal in Australia since 2016, but many eligible patients around the country still have difficulty accessing it.

Medical cannabis advocate and entrepreneur Elisabetta Faenza

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