GREEN LIGHT: The Federal Government has granted sales of medicinal cannabis.
GREEN LIGHT: The Federal Government has granted sales of medicinal cannabis.

Medicinal cannabis given the green light

THE Federal Government has approved the sale of medical marijuana to increase the speed of access to products by certified doctors.

Federal Minister for Health Greg Hunt said the government would authorise controlled importation by approved providers from international sources until domestic production meets local needs.

"At present, doctors approved to supply medicinal cannabis products must import the product as local production is only starting to be developed following the passage of legislation to allow domestic production late last year,” he said.

"We have listened to the concerns of patients and their families that are having difficulty accessing the product on prescription whilst domestic production becomes available.

"We are now making it easier to access medicinal cannabis products more rapidly, while still maintaining strict safeguards for individual and community safety.”

Newly-appointed federal Health Minister Greg Hunt outlines his priorities for the role in his first press conference in the job, Wednesday, Jan. 18, 2017. (AAP Image/Rachel Gray) NO ARCHIVING
Federal Minister for Health Greg Hunt said action will allow for faster access by qualified doctors to medicinal cannabis. RACHEL GRAY

Mr Hunt said the Office of Drug Control would put in place this policy effective immediately.

Importers will be able to source medicinal cannabis from certified overseas suppliers and store products in a secure warehouse in Australia.

"Patients who have been prescribed medicinal cannabis by an authorised doctor will be able to source the medication from a company in Australia - rather than on an individual case-by-case basis from overseas, which involves delays in importation,” Mr Hunt said.

"This will shorten time frames to the supply of medicinal cannabis for patients.”

Mr Hunt said the Department of Health already had a number of companies interested in supplying the Australian market.

He said it was expected that within eight weeks, or sooner, Australia would have a store of imported medicinal cannabis products.

Mr Hunt said the supply of medicinal cannabis products would remain a controlled process and strict conditions would be placed on importers.