Medical Marijuana Australia – the current State of play

  1. Laws governing medical marijuana australia have existed for several years, but regulation can vary by state.

The global legal cannabis market is expected to double in size over the next five year, and will be worth approximately $146.4 billion by 2025, according to a report by Grand View Research.

This revenue growth is largely expected to be driven by the increasing adoption of cannabis-based medicine as a treatment option for conditions such as chronic pain, cancer, and epilepsy. The cannabis industry is now starting to gain traction worldwide due to high consumer demand and the increasing legalisation of recreational and medicinal marijuana.

Cannabis companies have been cropping up left and right over the last few years, and Australia is no exception. Early movers are already positioning themselves to capitalise on the growing market, which could become worth more than $1.2 billion in Australia alone.

A major hurdle currently facing the industry is the difficulty involved in prescribing cannabis to patients. Consumers who wish to access the drug must go through a specialist appointment and then wait up to four weeks for government approval.

While the process may be challenging, experts say that the government’s current model makes it considerably easier to harvest patient data, allowing medical researchers and regulators to better understand the needs of the Australian patient base. Thankfully, the TGA has also introduced an online access system, allowing patients in some states to submit an application to the state government and the TGA at the same time.

Although the Australian cannabis industry has only existed for around three years it has still managed to make considerable headway in the sector, due to its considerable experience in the agri-pharma game.

However, the legal framework around medicinal cannabis is still in a state of flux, and regulation can vary widely from state to state.


ACT

The ACT government may soon make history by becoming the first state in Australia to make it legal to grow or possess cannabis for personal use. A private members bill tabled by ACT Labor backbencher, Michael Pettersson in December last year would see it become legal for private citizens to grow up to four plants worth of naturally cultivated cannabis, or possess 50 grams for personal use.

The bill has the support of both the Labor party and the Greens, meaning that it already has the required majority need to pass through the ACT’s legislative assembly. Once passed the bill will ban smoking cannabis in a public place—or within 50 metres of a child—and synthetic cannabis would continue to retain its’s criminal status.

The Labor party and the Greens want to see the bill passed as quickly as possible, however recently added parliamentary rules may result in a partial delay. Under a new standing order, all of the Assembly’s amendments to bills must now go through the parliament’s scrutiny committee before being approved.

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In light of this, Chief Minister Andrew Barr said that the debate over Pettersson’s cannabis legalisation bill is unlikely to conclude for several months, potentially “not even by mid year at this point”.

“The new standing orders of the Assembly require all amendments to go through a scrutiny process so if there’s any contention around a piece of legislation in the Assembly it will take three sitting periods effectively for it to be resolved, so we intend to have a measured and detailed debate both on the principle of the legislation and any subsequent amendments,” Barr said.

The Greens are also currently pushing another piece of legislation, the Drugs of Dependence (Personal Cannabis Use) Amendment Bill, which it hopes will increase patient access to medicinal marijuana.

The leader of the ACT Greens, Shane Ratternbury, said that the party is proposing the bill “to assist people suffering serious illnesses to have easier access to cannabis for medicinal use as we know that the ACT’s medicinal cannabis scheme remains hard to access.”

“Here in the Territory, in 2004 and again in 2014, the two major parties blocked the Greens’ bills to legalise cannabis for medicinal use. Unfortunately, now that a scheme does exist, it is not working for those who need it.”

“That’s why we’ll be seeking to increase the allowable amount for possession for people who use cannabis medicinally to recognise that people with a medical need may need to stockpile larger quantities than recreational users and the current avenues for accessing it under prescription are overly restrictive,” Ratternbury said.

 

New South Wales

New South Wales has been leading the way when it comes to patient access since March 2018, when Health Minister Greg Hunt announced that the state government had “taken a machete” to red tape, allowing for “direct and immediate access” to medicinal cannabis.

The government claims that this has slashed approval processing times for cannabis prescriptions, as patients in NSW now only require a single clinical assessment from the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA). Previously, approvals were overseen by both the Commonwealth and NSW Health, and could take weeks to be granted.

“Where the doctors say it is required, we’ll make sure it is available in a matter of days,” Hunt said.

“New South Wales is now the national leader—we have had tremendous discussions with Tasmania and Victoria, and so I am hopeful that will make progress with them very shortly—but the benchmark has been set here and this is about saving lives and protecting lives, it’s about giving people the capacity to go through their treatments.”

The NSW Minister for Health and Medical Research, Brad Hazzard, also argued that the legislative changes will have a huge difference to patient quality of life.

“For that reason NSW has a $6 million advisory service that we established just a few months ago, and what that enables doctors to do is make a phone call and find out how can medicinal cannabis possibly assist your patient,” he said.

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In February 2019 Elixinol Global Limited elected to invest almost $10 million in the state, purchasing 60 acres of cannabis growing land in Northern NSW for 2.6 million. The land has 3,400 square metre of space that the company intends to use for a $7 million planned greenhouse facility, although it has yet to receive a Medical Cannabis License from the Australian Office of Drug Control.

The managing director of Elixinol, Linda McLeod, said that the company anticipates the facility will be capable of producing 2,000-5,000 tonnes of medical cannabis per year.

“It’s a fully integrated state of the art, highly secured cultivation and manufacturing facility of farmer grade medical cannabis product,” she said.Order cannabis near me Aualia.

“Assuming the development application is approved the construction will start around April or May. It’s contingent on the timing of the application and our licences.”

“What we will endeavour to do is use local contractors as much as we can for construction and ideally we would like to employ all our professional staff locally.”

At the same time, the NSW Greens have also begun pushing a plan that would see the recreational use of cannabis legalised in the state. The party have promised to introduce a private member’s bill to legalise, license, and regulate recreational marijuana use within the first 100 after the election, along with moving for a parliamentary inquiry into the legislation.

If passed, the bill would allow NSW residents to grow up to six cannabis plants at home for personal use, as well as consuming it wherever it is legal to smoke tobacco. The Greens say the legislation would raise an estimated $200 million per year in additional tax revenue for the state government, via a mix of GST, licensing fees, and reduced criminal prosecution costs.Order cannabis near me Aualia.

Greens MP and spokesman for Justice and Policing, David Shoebridge, claims that it “makes no sense to treat the consumption of cannabis as a crime”.

“We are wasting millions each year and missing out on licencing revenues that the state desperately needs. It’s time we stopped taking such a backward approach to a drug that over one-third of Australians have used. No one is saying that cannabis is without any harmful effects, however making it illegal does not magically make it safer, in fact it does the opposite.”

“By making cannabis legal, consumers can be certain of the concentration and quality of the product they are using, can be assured it meets minimum health standards and can be given accurate information about its likely effects,” Shoebridge said.

 

Northern Territory

Thus far, the Northern Territory has been stuck playing catch up to with other Australian states. The NT government is still mulling over whether to give the green light to the industrial hemp industry—which would bring it into line with the rest of the country—although the commercial cultivation of medicinal marijuana australia is already legal at the federal level.Order cannabis near me Aualia.

Draft legislation to legalise the growing of industrial hemp is currently in consideration by the Cabinet, following a successful trial crop in the Katherine region that indicated the states climate conditions are going to give the NT a “big commercial advantage”.

“Following a successful department trial, the Territory Labor Government believes there is serious potential to grow industrial hemp as a new job-creating industry,” a government spokesperson said.

“Hemp can be used in many daily products … and we believe it will create long-term local jobs and business opportunities.”

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The state also had a big win last year when it was chosen as the location of the Wayland Group’s new Asia Pacific hub. The Canadian medicinal cannabis distributor launched its’ Australian expansion in December when it entered into an agreement to acquire 50.1 percent of Tropicann Pty Ltd, a newly-formed Darwin based company.Buy Weed in Australia Buy Marijuana in Australia Buy Cannabis in Australia where to buy weed Australia Order cannabis near me Aualia.

According to the CEO of Wayland, Ben Ward, the acquisition—will involve an initial payment of  $4.94 million, followed by a second payment of $24.71 million once certain milestones are achieved—will allow the company to position itself in the emergent Asia Pacific market.Order cannabis near me Aualia.

“It positions us to partner with industry leaders in Australia’s expanding cannabis industry and the Northern Territory is the ideal location for our new Asia Pacific hub. Globalisation of cannabis continues, and we are present in relevant markets, with Asia-Pacific now added to our international footprint,” Ward said.

“The Northern Territory provides Wayland with ideal climate conditions in a globally respected and sovereign country with a large and fast emerging market of over 250 million people just four hours north.

“This acquisition accelerates Wayland’s growth strategy in becoming a truly global cannabis company.”

The state’s Chief Minister, Michael Gunner, has also confirmed that the NT government is in talks with the Wayland Group and Tropicann about being granted Major Project Status. This would be mean that the project is given priority Ministerial oversight to assist with co-ordination and facilitation and ensure timely project delivery. Gunner said that Wayland Group’s plan fit with the state government’s strategy to diversify the Northern Territory economy and create jobs.Buy Marijuana in Australia

“Medicinal cannabis is a growth industry for the Northern Territory, particularly after its legalisation by the Australian Government.”Buy Marijuana in Australia

“This is a very real and exciting opportunity for the people of the Northern Territory to enter and participate in a new growth sector in the global economy,” Gunner said.Buy Marijuana in Australia

Queensland

In October last year the first cannabis clinic in Queensland was opened by the Cannabis Access Clinic network. Although the private clinic is still required to seek government approval—which can take up to four weeks—before prescribing medicinal marijuana, its launch is part of a broader move to make the drug more accessible to patients

According to the medical director of Cannabis Access Clinics, Dr Sanjay Nijhawan, “the Queensland Department of Health has worked hard to streamline regulations and make access to treatment easier for patients in need.”

“We are pleased to be able to extend our clinic network to Queensland,” he said.Buy Marijuana in Australia

This clinic’s launch was followed by an announcement from the Queensland government in November that it intends to increase patient access to medicinal cannabis by repealing laws that limit its prescription.

A spokesperson for the state government subsequently confirmed that the proposed changes would be tabled in the Queensland Parliament at some point in 2019.

The state’s Minister for Health, Steven Miles, said that the changes to the Public Health (Medicinal Cannabis) Act 2016 will bring Queensland up to date with other states that have taken a more proactive approach to the issue, such as Victoria and New South Wales. Buy Weed in Australia Buy Cannabis in Australia

“Our government is committed to improving pathways for Queensland patients to access medicinal cannabis and this new legislation joins some of the most progressive laws in the country,” Miles said.

“This law change will significantly streamline the prescription process by removing state-level approval and will ensure patients have access to the treatment they need sooner. It will remove red tape for patients and doctors seeking access to medicinal cannabis treatment. It will also mean that visitors to Queensland who have a valid prescription for medicinal cannabis from another jurisdiction will no longer require a specific Queensland approval.”Buy Marijuana in Australia Order cannabis near me Aualia.

“This is about making it easier for patients and clinicians. These changes are designed to both help and protect patients.”

At the same time, Asterion Cannabis Inc—a privately owned Canadian cannabis company—has been eyeing up the state. The company recently announced that it had signed on to a non-binding agreement to acquire approximately 90 hectares of farmland in South East Queensland for the production of medicinal cannabis.

When complete, the $10.6 million growing facility will have an annual capacity in excess of 500,000 kilograms, and become home to what the company claims will be the world’s biggest cannabis greenhouse site, covering a 4.3 million square foot space.Buy Marijuana in Australia Buy Cannabis in Australia

Last month, Asterion’s wholly-owned Australian subsidiary filed an application with the Office of Drug Control to obtain licences needed for the cultivation, production and research of medicinal cannabis. Once the research licenses are granted, the company intends to develop standard operating procedures for its research platform, and start research into techniques for clonal propagation.Buy Marijuana in Australia

Asterion Australia’s growing facility will also make use of special plant tissue culture technology, eliminating the need for mother plants. The company claims that this will lead to lower costs, increased efficiency, and disease-free plantlets.Buy Weed in Australia Order cannabis near me Aualia.

 

South Australia

When it comes to cannabis, South Australia appears to have a split personality.

In July last year the state government suffered a “humiliating” defeat after it was forced to backtrack on proposed legislation that would have increased cannabis possession penalties to a maximum fine of $2,000, and up to two years in prison.Buy Marijuana in Australia

Following an intense public outcry, the SA attorney general, Vicki Chapman, backflipped on her previous stance, saying that jailing people for cannabis possession is clearly “not in line with the views of a significant portion of the community”.Buy Cannabis in Australia

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However, while the state government seems strongly opposed to recreational use, it’s another story when it comes to medicinal cannabis. Buy Weed in Australia Buy Cannabis in Australia

in November the state hosted The Future of Medicinal Cannabis symposium—organised by the medicinal cannabis company, LeafCann Group—which featured national and international speakers discussing the challenges currently facing the industry. Buy Weed in Australia Order cannabis near me Aualia.

According to the CEO of LeafCann, Elisabetta Faenza, if South Australia takes advantage of the opportunities presented to it then it could eventually become a world leader in the sector.Buy Cannabis in Australia

“We expect the Australian medicinal cannabis market to be worth more than A$1 billion by 2025,” Faenza said.

“Being able to lead in the production and the development of medicinal cannabis is somewhere that South Australia can really shine. Buy Weed in Australia Order cannabis near me Aualia.

Our vision is to establish South Australia as the centre of excellence for education, research, industry innovation and development for the global cannabis sector.”

Faenza also noted that SA’s advanced research facilities could allow the state to move to the forefront of the industry, due to the sector’s pressing need for further clinical trials of cannabis-based medicine.Buy Weed in Australia

“The ability of places like the South Australian Health and Medical Research Institute (SAHMRI) to have collaborative research is a big advantage, this means that Adelaide could really take a lead not only in Australia but globally in the development of cannabis-based medicines,” she said.Buy Cannabis in Australia

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The South Australian Minister for Industry and Skills, David Pisoni—another keynote speaker at the symposium—was equally enthusiastic about the state’s moneymaking potential.Order cannabis near me Aualia.

“There is significant public interest and support for the medicinal use of cannabis and cannabis-derived products arising from reports of symptomatic benefit in a range of medical conditions,” he said.

“The state government supports the development of this industry within the existing Commonwealth regulatory framework and licencing regime. It’s not just about growing cannabis but more about South Australia being perfectly placed to engage in the sophisticated production, processing, manufacturing and commercialisation of a pharmaceutical-grade product. Buy Weed in Australia Buy Cannabis in Australia

“Our state has the right blend of strengths in advanced horticulture, research and specialised manufacturing to have a real competitive advantage in this space,” Pisoni said.Buy Marijuana in Australia

 

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