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 licence to grow and harvest medicinal cannabis has been granted to an Australian company. With this, patients will be able to have easier access to domestically produced medicinal cannabis.

The Office of Drug Control (ODC) of the Australian Department of Health granted the licence to Cannoperations Pty Ltd in Victoria earlier this month. The company had to undergo an on-site security assessment. Initially, the products will only be available in Victoria’s medicinal market. Processing of licences for other states and territories in Australia is currently underway.

According to Federal Minister for Health Greg Hunt, the domestic supply of medicinal cannabis products in Australia will be made easier as a result of the move. “We are now making it easier to access medicinal cannabis products more rapidly, while still maintaining strict safeguards for individual and community safety,” he said in a statement. “While the Australian supply of medicinal cannabis continues to develop, the government has authorised the importation and storage of the product from international sources for interim supply in Australia. This will give faster access by qualified doctors to medicinal cannabis for their patients.”

Cannoperations received its research licence from the Office of Drug Control on Feb. 17 and the commercial licence on Mar. 8. The company will be able to conduct research and supply medicinal cannabis to patients. Nevertheless, recreational growth and use of cannabis still remains illegal with state-based criminal laws in effect.

In February, Hunt said that plans to make easier access to medicinal cannabis were being devised. As part of the move, the product can easily be imported from overseas suppliers and sired in a “safe, secure warehouse in Australia.”

“This will be an effective interim national inventory to be provided through approved imports. These imports will improve the timeliness of supply while work continues on establishing the domestic cultivation and manufacture scheme,” Hunt said in February, speaking with News Corp (via the Herald Sun).

Meanwhile, the medical cannabis market is enjoying a significant growth in its shares. On Tuesday, the share price of Stemcell United Ltd jumped by as much as 2,978 percent to hit 40 cents and a market value of around $146 million. The company recently took the acclaimed “King of Cannabis” Nevil Schoenmakers onboard as its strategic adviser. Hunt’s announcement increased the share prices of other medical cannabis companies – including MMJ Phytotech Ltd , Zelda Therapeutics Ltd , Auscann Group Holdings Ltd and Creso Pharma Ltd – as well.