Australian Medical Association (AMA) President Dr Michael Gannon has commented on the Australian Government’s decision to improve access to medical cannabis.
Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt announced earlier this week Australia will have a stockpile of imported medicinal cannabis products within a couple of months. This is to be a stopgap measure while local cultivation gets under way and evolves to the point it is able to meet local demand.
While stating it was good news, Dr Gannon said he probably didn’t share the level of enthusiasm of some regarding medical marijuana generally and it was important to stick to scientific evidence.
“It is a long way from being a panacea for the whole range of conditions it’s claimed to be useful for, but in those circumstances where a doctor makes a judgment that it should be prescribed, it’s entirely appropriate that patients or their families can access a legal supply, rather than resorting to the black market,” said Dr. Gannon in an interview with the ABC.
“It may be useful, but the degree of enthusiasm for cannabis sometimes is a long way ahead of the scientific evidence.”
In October last year, AMA Queensland president Chris Zappala also expressed concerns regarding medical cannabis getting a foothold in Australia.
While reactions from medical cannabis patients to Minister Hunt’s announcement have also been somewhat mixed, it was warmly received by Australia’s fledgling cannabis companies.
“This measure will reduce the time it takes to import the product into the country, creating a shorter timeline to patient accessibility,” said Nativ Segev, Co-founder and Managing Director, MGC Pharmaceuticals
Elaine Darby, Managing Director, AusCann commented:
“We welcome the decision by the Government to accelerate patient access to medicinal cannabis products. It is encouraging that they have been listening to patients and doctors and acting on their concerns.”
Regarding availability of locally cultivated supplies, Minister Hunt commented in an interview on ABC AM on Wednesday that Victoria has indicated that will occur around the middle of the year. The Victorian Government has been tinkering with cultivation from a secret location since last year.
However, Minister Hunt says what will be produced from the Victorian facility may not be enough to meet local demand – so importing may occur for quite some time before licenced local private cultivators can get established, start their crops and start producing.