Following consultation carried out last year, Australia’s Federal Government announced yesterday it has decided to permit the export of medical cannabis products.
“We are making these changes because the expanding domestic medicinal cannabis products industry is facing increasing competition from imports,” said part of a statement posted on Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt’s website. “And allowing the export of medicinal cannabis products will help the developing domestic market to grow further.”
The announcement will go a long way to alleviating fears the country was heading for a medical cannabis glut, with the market becoming increasingly crowded and comparatively few Australians permitted to use medical cannabis.
The government says the new arrangement will also help secure medicines for local supply by assisting domestic manufacturers to expand. While there may be a temptation for some companies to ignore the complicated local market to pursue supplying burgeoning markets overseas, the government appears to have this covered. To ensure local availability, it says there will be a condition of any export licensing that medicinal cannabis products must be made available, when and if required, to Australian patients first.
The Turnbull Government states the reason exports were initially banned was to gain the confidence of the international community in Australia’s cultivation system and other controls – which are incredibly strict.
It will come as no surprise that the value of many Australian medical cannabis stocks rose on the announcement yesterday.
There’s no question that many Australians would like to access cannabis medicines. What remains to be seen is if the Government will also improve accessibility. In December, a group of Australian senators called on the Federal Health Minister to make access to medical cannabis faster and easier.
However, Mr. Hunt seems to think this is already happening.
“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,” he said. “We want a robust Australian medicinal cannabis industry so that doctors have safe, quality domestic products that they can confidently prescribe to their patients.”
Recently, Australia’s Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) released a series of clinical guides on medical cannabis.