A worker tends to cannabis plants at a medical marijuana plantation near the northern Israeli city of Safed, June 11, 2012. Reuters/Baz Ratner

Medicinal cannabis campaigner Lucy Haslam said scores of users of the drug can be deemed criminal, as she emphasises on the need to make access to the drug easier. Referring to the issue, she says there is an “elephant in the room” concerning access to the drug.

Haslam’s comments come two months after cannabis importation was authorised. Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt said the product could be imported “until domestic production meets local needs.”

Haslam, who is from Tamworth, is scheduled to meet Professor James Angus, appointed as chair of the federal government’s Advisory Council on the Medicinal Use of Cannabis. Haslam said there are thousands of cannabis users who are forced to acquire the drug through black market and illegal means.

She said several of these people take the drug for valid medicinal reasons. The means established by the government are too limited that patients cannot find a doctor to prescribe the drug to them, she added. “At the moment, nothing has really changed for patients in Australia,” Haslam said.

Haslam has expressed she has concerns about the advisory council, saying it has been stacked against medicinal cannabis. She described this as “completely inappropriate.”

A statement issued by the Department of Health said factors like safety of the national supply would be taken into consideration while appointing the council. “Professor Angus will assist in ensuring timely and safe access for patients including improving co-ordination between the federal and individual state regulators,” the statement said.

Meanwhile, AusCann Group Holdings is preparing to harvest its first medicinal cannabis crop in Chile. The crop was planted by DayaCann joint venture. AusCann is an equal part of the venture along with Fundacion Daya.

Several strains with specific purpose and medical usage have been included in the greenhouse grown plants. As many as 300 kilogrammes of dried cannabis product will be transported to a certified manufacturing facility for processing into medicinal cannabis formulations. “We’re delighted with the harvest of our first crop with our partner Fundacion Daya and we’re confident we have selected the strongest and most appropriate strains for effective medicine formulations and further cultivation in the next harvest,” managing director Elaine Darby said.

After raising almost $5 million as part of its prospectus funding, AusCann started trading on the ASX in February. The company plans to develop a growing facility in Australia that will help patients get locally grown and harvested medicinal cannabis. Since permits allowing domestic manufacturing have been not been issued in Australia, the company’s products will be imported from its globally recognised partners.

Source: YouTube/ABCTVCatalyst