Medicinal cannabis: Australia receives first licensed import of marijuana; Experts speaks on benefits of growing the drug locally

By @ritwikroy1985 on
Cannabis (2)
Section Grower Morgan Blenk inspects a marijuana plant clone before planting it at Tweed Marijuana Inc in Smith's Falls, Ontario, March 19, 2014. Reuters/Blair Gable

The first licensed imports of cannabis have arrived in Perth, and seriously ill Australians can now access the imported medical marijuana. The drug has been imported Down Under in a joint collaboration between Swiss cannabis company Creso Pharma and Australian wholesale company Health House International.

Three different types of cannabis oil from Canadian company CanniMed have been imported. They can be used to treat various symptoms and have a price tag of $350 a bottle. The bottles will last about a month. The federal government already gave the go-ahead late-2016 to companies for growing and manufacturing medical marijuana. However, it will still be a while before Australians can freely access the life-giving drug, Health House Director Paul Mavor said. It will take time for companies to secure the required permissions and setup operations.

Mavor is highly optimistic though, as he believes that in another 12-24 months, there will be some pretty great Australian products that will also be imported then. Health Minister Greg Hunt has earlier given the permission to fast-track imports while local cultivation catches up. Medical marijuana grown in Australia will be way cheaper as there won’t be any shipping charge involved and no freight duties. However, a lot will depend on both domestic and overseas demand and whether the companies can achieve economies of scale.

Mavor believes that around 70,000 Aussies will start using the drug, and already 100,000 Canadians are using medicinal cannabis. He is also in the process of speaking to certain private insurance funds, who have shown interest in subsidising the drug for certain people, such as, wars veterans, those involved in accidents etc. Mavor is hopeful that in the coming years, medical marijuana will be listed under the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme, once tested in the local market.

On a general level, cannabis is extremely cost-effective as one shot may help in relieving insomnia, anxiety, vomiting, nausea and even chronic pain. However, even though demand in Australia may be strong, prescribing medical marijuana has been extremely slow. This has left states and territories set their own set of rules, writes Government News. As cannabis is still a Special Access category B drug, patients are asked to get approval both from the federal government as well as states and territories.

Patients are currently waiting months before they are able to access medicinal cannabis. Western Australia has the strictest prescription regime and South Australia the easiest. Thus, the first licensed import of cannabis is a ground-breaking moment for all Aussies.

“Now these products will allow patients to have the option of medicinal cannabis treatments if it is prescribed by their physician. This is particularly important given the unmet but often immediate need to access a timely medicinal cannabis supply across Australia,” said Chief Operating Officer of Creso Pharma, David Russell.

Join the Discussion