Australian Health Ministers Meet On Medicinal Cannabis

Medical cannabis meeting - Australia
Cannabis Image: BigStock

A meeting of Australian health ministers in Perth on Friday has resolved to take steps to coordinate use and control of cannabis for medical and research purposes across Australia.

Queensland Minister for Health and Ambulance Services Cameron Dick said it was important for state and territories work together, exchange information and adopt a coordinated approach to medical cannabis.

“I am pleased my Ministerial colleagues agreed with recommendations to support these goals,” said Minister Dick.

“We have tasked senior officials to work together and report back to ministers about opportunities for a more co-ordinated approach.”

The Australian Health Ministers’ Advisory Council has been requested to offer advice and options on a nationally coordinated strategy for the cultivation and manufacture of cannabis for medical and research purposes.

Friday’s meeting was a result of the Australian Federal Government announcing in December last year that local cultivation of medical marijuana will be carried out under uniform guidelines across the country.

While health ministers throughout the country appear to be generally cooperating in this respect; it seems all is not sunshine and kittens. A partnership between Queensland and New South Wales on medical cannabis trials appears to be on the rocks and Queensland will continue on its own.

The Queensland government is eager to be seen as a leader in supporting the nascent sector. It recently released its Public Health (Medicinal Cannabis) Bill 2016 for public consultation and an overview of the industry.

“Queensland wants to support the industries that are emerging throughout the medicinal cannabis supply chain and help ensure patients can access products safely and at the right dosage levels,” said Mr. Dick.

Under Commonwealth law, cannabis is currently a Schedule 9 substance. While there are exceptions for some extracts and compounds, generally speaking cannabis and its derivative products can’t be legally be used for medicinal purposes or be prescribed by a doctor.

Last week, Australia’s Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) announced an interim decision to create new Schedule 8 entries as a move towards changing this.

Cannabis and industrial hemp were widely used in Australia until the early decades of the 20th century. Australia was a signatory to the 1925 Geneva Convention on Opium and Other Drugs that resulted in the use of cannabis being restricted to medicinal and scientific purposes only. In 1938, cannabis was outlawed in Australia.