The Turnbull Government will facilitate faster access by qualified doctors to medicinal cannabis for patients with the necessary approvals.
We will authorise controlled importation by approved providers from approved international sources for interim supply in Australia, until domestic production meets local needs.
At present, doctors approved to supply medicinal cannabis products must import the product as local production is only starting to be developed following the passage of legislation to allow domestic production late last year.
We have listened to the concerns of patients and their families that are having difficulty accessing the product on prescription whilst domestic production becomes available.
We are now making it easier to access medicinal cannabis products more rapidly, while still maintaining strict safeguards for individual and community safety.
The Office of Drug Control, within the Department of Health, will implement this policy – effective immediately.
As part of these changes, importers will be able to source medicinal cannabis products from a reputable supplier overseas and store these in a safe, secure warehouse in Australia.
This will be an effective interim supply to be provided through approved commercial importers.
Patients who have been prescribed medicinal cannabis by an authorised doctor will be able to source the medication from a company in Australia – rather than on an individual case by case basis from overseas which involves delays in importation.
This will shorten timeframes to the supply of medicinal cannabis for patients.
The Department of Health has already written to a number of companies that are interested, or potentially interested, in supplying the Australian market with product to advise them of this interim arrangement.
It is expected that within 8 weeks, possibly sooner, Australia will have a store of imported medicinal cannabis products so that approved patients can have greater confidence in the supply arrangements for their doctors.
These imports will improve the timeliness of supply while work continues on establishing the domestic cultivation and manufacture scheme.
Supply of medicinal cannabis products will remain a controlled process and there are a number of strict conditions that will be placed on importers and suppliers around handling, secure storage and accounting for cannabis products.
More information is available on the Office of Drug Control website: www.odc.gov.au/