Australian Government Moves to Bolster Medical Cannabis Industry

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On Friday, Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s administration announced that it will soon begin prioritizing licensing for large cannabis-related projects, a new policy meant to boost the medical cannabis industry and ramp up economic growth in Australia, where medical use for patients with a doctor’s prescription has been allowed since 2016

Managed through the Department of Industry, Innovation and Science, Major Project Status is awarded to projects with an estimated investment of $50 million Australian dollars (about US$34 million) or more.

Such projects are expected to make a “significant contribution” to “exports, employment and/or infrastructure development,” especially in rural parts of the country. Starting in September, the government will give applicants with MPS priority to medical cannabis licenses issued through the Department of Health’s Office of Drug Control. 

According to Minister for Industry, Science and Technology, Karen Andrews, the move is meant to eliminate red tape and put an end to unnecessary delays that can hold back major projects, “making it as streamlined as possible for companies to invest and do business in Australia.”

Additionally, Minister for Health Greg Hunt, indicated that the Morrison Administration agreed to adopt all recommendations in a recently completed review of the Narcotic Drugs Act 1967, including “working towards a single licence model so there will now be one application for a medicinal cannabis licence covering cultivation, production, manufacture and research activities.”

As of 30 June 2019, more than 10,000 prescriptions for medical cannabis products have been written in Australia, and 7,196 patients have been authorized to access it.

To date, the Office of Drug Control has issued: 24 licenses for cultivation of cannabis for medical use; 16 for cultivation for research; and 23 for manufacture of medical cannabis products.

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