Has Australia jumped the gun on medicinal marijuana?

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Australia’s budding medicinal cannabis sector is set for a major windfall after winning approval to begin exports. The health minister, Greg Hunt, said allowing medicinal cannabis product exports will help the developing domestic market to grow.

“By helping the domestic manufacturers to expand, this, in turn, helps to ensure an ongoing supply of medicinal cannabis products here in Australia,” Hunt said in a statement.

He said he hopes Australia can be the world’s top supplier of medicinal 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 New South Wales. The federal health department said 350 patients have accessed Australian-grown medicinal cannabis products.

However, there are some concerns doctors are reluctant to prescribe the products.

Hunt said while it was “understandable” many doctors were reluctant to prescribe a drug that has only recently received approval, he assured the medical community there was “now no real government barriers at all to accessing medicinal cannabis”.

“It is up to individual doctors – governments shouldn’t interfere in the prescribing practices of individual doctors.

“We are working with the Australian Medical Association and the College of GPs to ensure that doctors have the full information, so they can ensure whether this is or isn’t in the best interest of their patients,” he said.

The 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 told reporters in Melbourne on Thursday.

The ABC reported that once parliament resumes in February, regulations preventing the export of medicinal cannabis products would be changed and include cannabis-based oils, patches, sprays, lozenges and tablets that can help alleviate pain.

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Source: 420Intel – Medical Cannabis

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