The Australian Medical Cannabis Industry
The Australian Medical Cannabis Industry has witnessed unprecedented growth since the legalisation of cannabis for medical purposes in 2016. Though still at an early stage, the Australian medical cannabis industry is already accumulating numerous patients, licensed practitioners and investors.
Right now, the industry caters to over 1,000 medical marijuana patients. As of June 2019, approximately 7,196 patients had been granted access to medical cannabis products through provisions made by the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA). Should the government opt to maintain its stance on the legal status of recreational marijuana, the industry is projected to reach $1.2 billion by 2024 and a little over $3 billion by 2028. Assuming the nation opts to reinvent its stance on cannabis for recreational use, the industry is projected to reach an impressive $12.3 billion by 2028.
The industry features over 20 cannabis companies which import, manufacture and supply cannabis and cannabis-based products to pharmacies and dispensaries across the nation. Aside from product distribution, the bulk of these companies trade on the Australian Stock Market as cannabis stocks.
Does The Morrison Administration Have Any Plans For The Growth of the Medicinal Cannabis Industry?
The Australian government under the leadership of Scott Morrison has placed a high priority on the expansion of the medical cannabis industry. These prioritisations began on the 1st of September, following the expedition of Major Project Status (MPS) in order to drive economic growth.
These projects are specially designed to foster the development of industries, particularly in rural and regional areas. They are awarded and closely monitored by the Department of Industry. According to Greg Hunt, the Minister of Health, this arrangement will allow applicants with MPS relating to the production of medical cannabis and licensing cannabis distribution top priority.
“We welcome this collaborative arrangement between the Department of Health and Department of Industry. It showcases the Morrison Government’s commitment to boosting local industry and helping those living with chronic or terminal illnesses.” Hunt expressed.
Aside from the prioritisation of medical marijuana companies actively seeking MPS, the Morrison Administration will be eliminating the tedious red tape associated with being granted medical marijuana licenses.
Prior to these reforms, the process to obtain a medicinal marijuana license for cultivation, production and manufacturing was riddled with numerous, arguably unnecessary processes which only stifled the growth of the sector. So far, the Office of Drug Control has issued only 69 licenses to cultivate, produce or manufacture medicinal cannabis. Of these licenses, the distribution is as follows;
- 24 licenses which permit cultivation of cannabis for medicinal use
- 16 licenses for cultivation of cannabis for research
- 23 licenses for the manufacture of medicinal cannabis products
The administration will be adopting the complete reviews of the Narcotics Drugs Act of 1967 by Professor John McMillan. In an independent review conducted by the professor, 26 recommendations which would help the nation streamline the licensing process for doctors and companies were presented. All 26 of these recommendations have been fully adopted.
As expressed by Minister Hunt, the government is working on a single license model in order to create a uniform application process for all types of medical cannabis licensing. The license covers;
- Research activities.
Now, doctors who apply under the TGA Special Access Scheme (SAS) or Authorised Prescriber provisions will not be subjected to tedious approval processes or regulatory burdens. This is due to the affected changes on the Narcotics Drug Regulation of 2016.
What Could The Future of the Medical Cannabis Industry Hold?
The Morrison administration has taken an impressive stance with the reforms to the medical marijuana sector. Should these reforms and regulations be followed, the medicinal cannabis Industry will experience unprecedented growth, to the benefit of patients with conditions that can be alleviated with the use of medicinal cannabis products.
The co-signage of the Departments of Health and Industry make for a viable combination in pushing the interests of the administration forward. As cannabis products become more widely accepted as an alternative or additional treatment, the industry looks set to soar.