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Regulations a drag on the medicinal cannabis industry, ‘unsustainable’


The Federal Government is considering regulatory changes to boost the medicinal cannabis industry in Australia.

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The Department of Health is seeking feedback on a series of changes to the permits required for cultivation and production of medicinal cannabis, for the first time standardising production into two different categories to fast-track the process.

The department has also proposed categories for supply pathways, avoiding the need for individual reviews and time-consuming requests for permit variations.

While the proposed changes come after a review of the Narcotic Drugs Act by Professor John McMillan, the department has conceded the issues have been long-standing.

“Consistent previous feedback from industry stakeholders indicate that the current, highly prescriptive permit arrangements inhibits commercial and operational flexibility for individual permit holders, thereby impeding the development of the industry as a whole,” the department said.

“Notwithstanding that there are a range of factors and information that must be considered when assessing a permit application, the current approach to the content of permits (is considered) to be unsustainable.

In 2016, the government passed legislation allowing the use of medicinal cannabis for certain conditions, and the domestic industry has grown since then.

Surveys before the introduction of medicinal cannabis found significant illicit use of cannabis for health reasons, and a follow-up survey published this year found some continued to prefer black-market supply due to the cost and perceived inaccessibility of legal products.

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