All hail the green, as Australia is finally legalising the growth and use of medical marijuana. Yes, medical marijuana only, it is still illegal to possess or cultivate marijuana for recreational purposes.
Amendments made to the Narcotic Drugs Act allow the cultivation and production of cannabis, as well as its manufacturing, for medicinal purposes in Australia. The amendments raised bipartisan support when introduced by the Turnbull government. Also, the Therapeutic Goods Act 1989 will be amended.
The amendments provide a legislative framework for state or territory government agencies to enable cultivation, production and manufacture of cannabis; to allow Australian patients access to the benefits of medical marijuana. This means that patients that have a valid prescription can possess and use medical cannabis made legally in Australia.
Although, one thing to keep in mind is that the supply must have been authorised under the Therapeutic Goods Act and relevant state and territory legislation. However, these changes place medical cannabis in the same category as restricted medicinal drugs such as morphine.
Progress of some of the states
Victoria is likely to become the first state within Australian jurisdiction to fully legalise the use of medical marijuana, with plans to pass state legislations coming into effect in 2017.
NSW is also currently testing trials of Epidolex, a cannabis-based drug for treating children with epilepsy. If the trials turn out to be successful, then children in NSW will have access to the drug in 2017. This is good news and a victory for many parents whose children suffer from seizures everyday due to epilepsy.
The demand for cannabis based medicines has been incredibly popular, making it an ideal new market for investment. The cannabis market is now legally open for companies looking to invest. For example, listed on the ASX, the Medical Cannabis Business Pharmaceuticals are experiencing a 27% rise on their share price currently.
Also, Medlab Clinical (also listed on the ASX) became one of the first commercial businesses to be involved in therapeutic research with a focus on cannabis. It was selected by the Government of NSW for conducting research at the Sydney laboratory.
The price may be too ‘high’ to reach
The cost of the marijuana medicines to hit the shelf in near future is a concern. Medicinal marijuana products in the U.S cost about $2000 per month. There is a chance that if the cost of the products is unaffordable for families, then many may resort to obtaining it the cheaper and illegal ways.
Mullways Medicinal Cannabis is a business that has been distributing medicinal cannabis products for over a decade. The business’s owner claims that they can make products much cheaper than the bigger pharmaceuticals. He also warns against the high prices of the medicinal marijuana products and that it may drive desperate families to resort to illegal means.