Aussie Medicinal Cannabis Exports Get Green Light
Australia's budding medicinal cannabis sector is preparing for a major windfall after winning approval to begin exports.
Health Minister Greg Hunt says allowing medicinal cannabis product exports will help the developing domestic market blaze a new trail internationally.
"Our goal is very clear - to give Australian farmers and manufacturers the best shot at being the world's number one exporter of medicinal cannabis," Mr Hunt said on Thursday.
He said Australia's reputation for "clean and green" farm products meant it is well placed to be a leader in medical cannabis.
The export permit will be done by regulation.
The federal government in 2016 legalised patient access to Australian-grown and manufactured medicinal cannabis, subject to state and territory regulations.
Victoria became Australia's first state to legalise cannabis for medical use and was quickly followed by NSW.
The federal health department says 350 patients have accessed Australian-grown medicinal cannabis products.
However, there are some concerns doctors are reluctant to prescribe the products.
"There is a small-to-medium quality body of evidence in so many of the areas where people are promoting the use of medicinal cannabis," Australian Medical Association president Michael Gannon told reporters in Perth.
"But there is no question that where a doctor has made a decision and the patient wants to use the medication there should be fewer barriers to obtaining a safer legal supply."
Mr Hunt says the government has been working with GPs and the AMA to help doctors feel more comfortable about prescribing marijuana.
"It's a question for individual doctors about what they see best," he said.
"We won't be dictating to doctors what they should prescribe."
Opposition frontbencher Anthony Albanese said it was a "sensible move forward" for Australia to export medicinal cannabis products.
"We know that medicinal use of cannabis can alleviate people's health issues and, therefore, if Australia's in a position to provide support, it should do so," he said.
Mr Hunt's announcement sent medical cannabis producers' stocks to new highs on the ASX on Thursday.
The chief executive of Cann Group, whose shares were up about 28
"I think we are seeing there is a global shortage so there is going to be room for multiple players," Peter Crock said.