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Medicinal cannabis in Tasmania

The island state of Tasmania is considered a good place to grow medicinal cannabis.  The Australian domestic market for medicinal cannabis is estimated to be worth $100 million a year and with raw material difficult and expensive to import, there is plenty of interest.

Tasmania will allow access to medicinal cannabis from 1 September 2017.

How many companies have been granted licences in Tasmania?

Companies need approval from both the Office of Drug Control (ODC) and the Tasmanian Government.  Tasmanian Botanics has the licences it needs from the ODC, but is still waiting on some state approvals.

Tasmanian Alkaloids and AusCann have been granted a medicinal cannabis cultivation licence and a research and development licence.  The companies will need extra federal and state approvals before they can go to market. There is no set number of licences to be issued. 

Where will the crops be?

There is a lot of secrecy surrounding this.  Companies with medicinal cannabis licences face massive fines and could even lose their licences if they make the location of crops public.

What kind of security will crop growers need?

The ODC has said security must be "robust".  Cannabis crops will require stronger security than commercial poppy fields. Heath Kratzer from lobby group Medicinal Cannabis Australia said it was unlikely medicinal cannabis would be grown outside.  "You've got to grow it indoors under lights," he said.

What form will the product take?

Patients will be able to choose from oral drops, pills, capsules, topical applications and mouth sprays.

Tasmanians will have access to medicinal cannabis from 1 September 2017.  They will need an appointment with a doctor to explain the need for the product, and the doctor will then have to apply to the Tasmanian Health Department for approval to prescribe.

There are no set criteria for assessing the application, but doctors will need to demonstrate a benefit from medicinal cannabis compared to other medication.  

Tasmanian Botanics has a licence to import medicinal cannabis from Switzerland and Canada to meet demand across Australia, until its own production comes on line. 

(From ABC News - 13 July 2017)