Australia’s young medical cannabis market is set to get a big boost with the Federal Government’s approval to export cannabis-based medicines.
According to Health Minister Greg Hunt, allowing the exportation of medical cannabis will help create a bigger market for these products and will eventually contribute to a more secure and more stable domestic supply.
Hunt said that with local patients knowing that they have a local market as well as an international market, cultivation and production of cannabis and cannabis-based medicines in Australia will improve.
Hunt hopes that with this move, Australia can become the top supplier of medical cannabis in the world.
Approval of medical cannabis
It can be recalled that in 2016, the Australian federal government legalized patient access to locally grown and manufactured medicinal cannabis, yet still subject to territory and state regulations. With this, Victoria was the first state in the country to legalize cannabis for therapeutic purposes, quickly followed by NSW.
However, even after Parliament passed laws that permitted the use of medicinal weed, the number of patients getting prescription for it has still been limited.
Advocates pointed to the reluctance of many doctors to prescribe medical cannabis and the special access requirements that doctors need to comply with as major hurdles to the drug being fully accessible.
Hunt, however, contended that it is understandable if many medical practitioners are cautious about prescribing a drug that has only been approved recently.
He assured, though, that the Health Ministry is working with the College of GPS and the Australian Medical Association to make sure that doctors are fully informed about medical cannabis so they can tell whether prescribing it is in their patients’ best interest or not.
Lifting the ban on medical cannabis exports
The current regulations that prevent domestic medical cannabis manufacturers from exporting their products will be amended once Parliament resumes next month. The changes in these regulations will cover cannabis-based treatments, including tablets, oils, sprays, patches, and lozenges with pain-relief properties and with the potential to treat symptoms for various medical conditions.
Hunt said that one of the conditions in the granting of any export license is that the medical cannabis product be first made available and accessible to Australian patients. And the domestic sector is fully supportive of the policy that local patients should come first.
Opposition leader Anthony Albanese said that allowing Australian manufacturers to export medical cannabis products was a “sensible move forward.”
Albanese stated that medical cannabis can help with people’s health issues, and if Australia is in a position to offer support to the medical cannabis industry, it should do so.