Australia’s Federal Minister for Health has tasked the nation’s Office of Drug Control to look into the potential of allowing medical cannabis exports while ensuring sufficient domestic supply.
It may seem a little premature given the domestic supply situation is far from resolved, however the export market could be a huge cash cow for the local industry, and in turn for Australia’s government.
“The Australian Government is committed to ensuring the long term availability of domestically grown medicinal cannabis products to Australian patients,” says the ODC. “At the same time, it is important not to constrain the growth of an emerging domestic industry through restricting market opportunities.”
The Department of Health is seeking comments from current licence holders and applicants, or those considering entering the industry, as to whether Australia should enable the export of medicinal cannabis products – and if so, how domestic patient access to products can be maintained. Further details for providing feedback can be viewed here.
While exports may be very attractive, it would be an unfortunate situation if the lure of overseas cash threatened domestic supply or pushed up prices of products. An example of that happening can be seen in Australia’s gas industry where the mad dash for LNG export cash has resulted in Australian gas being cheaper in Japan than it is here at home.
So far, the Department of Health has issued more than 15 licenses for domestic cultivation, production and manufacturing of medicinal cannabis products – but it will be some time before products developed from locally grown cannabis are available.
In the meantime, access to medical cannabis to qualifying patients has been accelerated through a bulk import scheme. Unfortunately, it seems that the pricing of these products may be out of reach for many of those who need the medications the most.
In other recent news from the ODC, the Office recently announced it will be hosting a series of information and consultation sessions this month. A Brisbane session on July 13 will focus on domestic cultivation and manufacture of medicinal cannabis products and sessions in Adelaide on the 18th will discuss clinical issues and domestic cultivation and manufacture. Following the sessions, ODC representatives will be available for private discussions. Further details can be viewed here.