EXPORTING medicinal cannabis to overseas countries will be allowed following an important announcement by the federal government.
The move helps develop and secure the future of the medicinal cannabis sector and follows extensive consultation undertaken last year.
It comes as Sunshine Coast medicinal cannabis grower/manufacturer Medifarm (pictured) – the only one in Queensland – reveals it expects to start producing its first batch of product within six months.
Ted O’Brien recently toured the Bli Bli farm and welcomed the prospect of a new industry for the Sunshine Coast and Australia.
The Turnbull government’s top priority is to ensure a safe quality supply of medicinal cannabis for Australian patients.
The decision to allow exports will help both the domestic supply and Australian producers by strengthening the opportunities for domestic manufacturers.
We are making these changes because the expanding domestic medicinal cannabis products industry is facing increasing competition from imports.
And allowing the export of medicinal cannabis products will help the developing domestic market to grow further.
We believe it is appropriate to amend the regulations governing the export of cannabis products to provide a level playing field.
But this change will not come at the expense of Australian patients.
In fact, by helping the domestic manufacturers to expand, this in turn helps to ensure an ongoing supply of medicinal cannabis products here in Australia.
It will be a condition of any licence authorising export that medicinal cannabis products be made available, when and if required, to Australian patients first.
Exports were not initially allowed in the scheme because Australia was focussed on gaining the confidence of the international community in its cultivation system and other controls.
I’m pleased that the International Narcotics Control Board reported favourably on Australia’s framework in its 2016 Annual Report.
We are continuing to make it easier for doctors to access medicinal cannabis products more rapidly, while maintaining strict safeguards for individual and community safety.
We want a robust Australian medicinal cannabis industry so that doctors have safe, quality domestic products that they can confidently prescribe to their patients.
Doctors can apply under the Therapeutic Goods Administration’s Special Access Scheme Category or via an Authorised Prescriber to legally prescribe medicinal cannabis products.