Medical Marijuana in Australia
The legalization of medical cannabis came into effect in Australia on the 30th of October 2016.
Since 2016 Australia has approved medicinal marijuana in Australia to provide relief for those suffering from six types of chronic illnesses. The Office of Drug Control ODC is the overarching regulator of the industry. Illnesses include chronic pain, multiple sclerosis, nausea in cancer-related chemotherapy, drug-resistant epilepsy, palliative care and post-traumatic stress disorder. 1059 patients have received approval for treatment since 2016.
One example of the medicinal benefits the plant can have is its ability to help an estimate of 250,000 Australian patients with epilepsy. It is estimated 35-40 percent of them have uncontrolled epilepsy. A recent study using cannabis showed it may be of benefit in about 40 percent of these patients. Showing there is a market for the plant especially medically in Australia.
Canada which has a slightly bigger population to Australia had 150 patients in the first year. Australia had 300. Canada now has over 300,000 medical patients after 18 years of legalization and is about to go recreational.
There are two factors that may position Australia as an international leader in the medical marijuana industry.
- Strict regulations and
- Government-led research labs
Health minister Greg Hunt said he wants Australia to become the worlds leading supplier of medical cannabis, which would necessitate more training across a wide spectrum of professions, including medical.
Office of Drug Control ODC & Theraputic Goods Administration TGA
The Office of Drug Control ODC controls the licensing of the cultivation, production, and manufacturing of cannabis products. The Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) regulated the manufacturing, registration, and supply of medical marijuana in Australia.
The three licenses that are available through the Office of Drug Control ODC
- Medical cannabis license (cultivation for supply for human medicinal use);
- Cannabis research license (cultivation for scientific research purposes); and
- Manufacturing license (authorizes the manufacture of cannabis products, and related activities i. e. supply, packaging, transport, storage, possession, control, disposal or destruction).
91 percent of Australia’s population supported medicinal marijuana in Australia. The 2018 financial year estimate of wholesale cannabis industry is $50-$100m.The Green Party party has estimated in a Vice article of $2 billion per year if legalized recreationally but there is only a 35 percent support rate.
According to an April 2018 ABC news article Canopy Growth Corporation, a $5.6 billion publicly listed Canadian company, has hired political lobbying and research firm Crosby Textor to help it in discussions with the federal and state governments to legalize recreational marijuana. Australia will eventually take the steps to sell recreational marijuana in Australia.
New Zealand will also take shape over the coming years. The Prime Minister, Jacinda Ardern, has pledged to hold a referendum on the legalization of recreational cannabis before the next national election in 2021.