Cannabis (3)
Droplets of oil form on the surface of a Cannabis plant in a state-owned agricultural farm in Rovigo, about 60 km (40 miles) from Venice, September 22, 2014. Reuters/Alessandro Bianchi

Queensland Government has amended its laws to enable licensed cannabis growers and researchers to supply seeds to Australia’s medicinal cannabis market. The development, as part of the Drugs Misuse Act 1986, comes on the heels of public roundtable meetings held last year to discuss the medicinal cannabis scheme.

A manufacturing license from the Therapeutic Goods Association will be required before a company can apply to the state for a go-ahead. According to Lanai Carter, who hopes to acquire the product for her son Lindsay, said being able to afford it will be difficult unless it was listed for subsidy on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme.

“We have already started having conversations with the government about whether it will pick up the cost but to no avail,” Carter said. “But getting the medicine on the PBS could take years.” It is not known how or if any changes made at the federal or state levels will lower the price of the drug.

The Federal Government last month issued Australia’s first license for cultivation of the drug. In addition, it also allowed certified cannabis suppliers to import the drug. With the amendment made by Queensland Government, drug growers in the state will be able to compete with those in other jurisdictions in supplying seed to licensed medicinal cannabis growers and scientific researchers. Nevertheless, as part of the new law, people will not be able to grow their own cannabis.

State Health Minister Cameron Dick said his request to subsidise the drug had been rejected by Federal health minister Greg Hunt. To advocate making access to medicinal cannabis easier and more affordable, Carter, along with Grace Sands, founded the Medical Cannabis Advisory Group in 2015.

Reggie Rickett, who suffers from chronic pain, has written to Queensland health minister Cameron Dick to allow him to grow medicinal cannabis. Diagnosed with prostate cancer and leukaemia more than 20 years ago, he said he consumes pain medications every day to cure the pain. "And if they say no, I'm going to do it anyway," Rickett said.

Although chemotherapy helped cure his cancer, it negatively affected his physical body. He consumes medications like Oxycontin, which he says could be adversely impacting his kidneys and liver.

He said he sourced medicinal cannabis illegally three months ago. After taking a few puffs, the pain had started to subside and he was able to carry out daily tasks that he otherwise felt difficult to achieve.