Sydney - Growing marijuana for medical purposes was set to become legal in Australia under legislation put before parliament Wednesday.
The legislation will open the way for patients with painful and chronic conditions to get the relief they need, with their doctors' approval, Health Minister Sussan Ley said in a statement.
It is expected to pass as the main parties have said they support it.
"This is an important day for Australia and the many advocates who have fought long and hard to challenge the stigma around medicinal cannabis products," Ley said.
"This is the missing piece in a patient's journey."
Australia already has laws to license the manufacture and supply of cannabis-based products, but not for the plant's cultivation.
The government is pushing for a national cultivation scheme to speedup access to medicinal cannabis, the minister said.
Licences will be available to "fit and proper Australians" with no ties to crime. It will also allow importation of plants and seeds, but will exclude growing for recreational use.
Australian senator David Leyonhjelm said it should be legal even for people who "puff for fun."
In the US state of Colorado, where the drug was legalised last year, "nobody has died, the sky hasn't fallen, we are not facing rack and ruin, Sodom and Gomorrah," he told reporters.
He also said marijuana revenue raised more money there than tobacco or alcohol taxes.
Australia has one of the highest per capita rates of illicit cannabis use in the world, according the Health Ministry. It is also the most-used illicit drug, with more than a third of the population using cannabis at some point in their lives.