Australian Senate committee issues report on medical cannabis barriers

An Australian Senate committee wrapped up its inquiry on barriers to regulated medical cannabis and published its final report this week.

Any improvements to regulatory overlap and availability pathways to locally produced products could brighten business prospects for entrepreneurs.

The committee’s final report came with 20 recommendations, covering a range of areas. including:
  • More education for doctors on the endocannabinoid system and patients on the regulatory framework.
  • A regulatory amendment allowing for the approval of multiple medicinal cannabis products in a single application.
  • Recommendations on pricing, including the establishment of a compassionate access subsidy in consultation with industry.

North Sydney-based data firm FreshLeaf Analytics noted that the report represents a positive step forward, but none of the recommendations are a done deal.

“It’s important to remember these are the recommendations of one Senate committee. They do not currently reflect the position of the current Government, nor the opposition,” according to the FreshLeaf analysis.

One of the key recommendations was the development of a National Framework for Medicinal Cannabis Access, which would facilitate further regulatory harmonization between the federal government, states and territories.

Another proposal with industry implication is a call to review the staffing levels of the Office of Drug Control to ensure license applications are processed in a timely manner.

Medical cannabis is a heavily regulated sector in every country with a functioning legal industry, requiring significant human resources within government.

Canada’s federal government, for example, employs more than 700 people in positions related to medical cannabis regulation.

The committee also recommended that a new independent regulator be considered if, after 12 months, the government – through the Therapeutic Goods Administration – has failed to address the barriers to medical cannabis.

The committee also recommended that Tasmania “immediately” join all other jurisdictions in Australia in utilizing the national regulator’s single online application pathway.

The full report is available here.