Cannabis producers in Australia avoid ‘nonessential’ designation

Australia’s government has identified specific “nonessential” industries in order to apply restricted operations to fight the novel coronavirus pandemic – and medical marijuana is not on that list.

That means medical cannabis producers and their supply chains may remain operational as far as the federal government is concerned.

“Businesses within the medicinal cannabis industry were not on that list,” a spokesman for the health department confirmed to Marijuana Business Daily in an email.

However, state and territory governments have announced separate local restrictions on businesses operating in their respective jurisdictions.

Industry group Medicinal Cannabis Industry Australia said medical marijuana qualifies as an essential service under the public health orders issued by the states and territories.

“MCIA has consulted with the government and have confirmed that the medicinal cannabis sector is covered by the existing public health orders issued by the states and territories, which outline that going to work – where working remotely isn’t an option – and getting medical care or supplies are essential services exempt from the social-distancing restrictions,” said Rosemary Richards, executive manager.

“Our sector complies with both these requirements.”

Australia recently reported its top month of patient approvals for medical cannabis.

The Therapeutic Goods Administration approved nearly 4,000 Special Access Scheme Category B (SAS B) applications in March.

That brings the total for the year to 12,662 – already 53% of 2019’s approvals.

The majority of medical marijuana prescriptions in Australia are under SAS B.

Regulators expect the number of prescriptions will climb to at least 70,000 in 2020.

For more of Marijuana Business Daily’s ongoing coverage of the coronavirus pandemic and its effects on the cannabis industry, click here.