23 January 2020

The Australian Advisory Council on the Medicinal Use of Cannabis, Communiqué #11

The Australian Advisory Council on the Medicinal Use of Cannabis (the Council) met on Tuesday 19 November 2019 in Melbourne for its eleventh meeting.

The meeting was chaired by Professor James Angus AO. Council members represent professional organisations, specialist areas of the medical profession and patient groups.

Regulatory updates

The Council received a detailed update on the status of the regulatory scheme for the cultivation, production and manufacture of medicinal cannabis, including application processing and inspection activity for licences and permits. Outcomes of working groups relating to cultivation, production and law enforcement were also provided.

The Council was advised that the Australian Government has accepted all 26 recommendations of the review of the Narcotic Drugs Act 1967 undertaken by Professor John McMillan AO. The Department of Health had commenced implementation of them, including through initial changes to the Narcotic Drugs Regulation 2016.

The department provided an update on recent stakeholder forums held in Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane on 12 and 13 November 2019. The forums provided an overview of the department's proposed approach to implementing the McMillan Review recommendations and conducting a review of the Office of Drug Control's fees and charges.

The Council was also advised that an inquiry into current barriers to patient access to medicinal cannabis in Australia had been referred by the Senate to the Senate Community Affairs References Committee.

Industry discussions

The Council welcomed representatives from Medicinal Cannabis Industry Australia (MCIA) and the Medicinal Cannabis Council (MCC) for a discussion on their membership and industry challenges and concerns.

Special Access Scheme (SAS) Online Portal

The department provided an update on the Special Access Schemes (SAS), including an overview of data relating to patient access to medicinal cannabis products via different access pathways. Of note was that over 20,000 prescriptions have been written for unapproved medicinal cannabis products with over 14,000 patients receiving authorisation through the SAS or Authorised Prescriber Schemes.