16 April 2021

The Australian Advisory Council on the Medicinal Use of Cannabis (the Council) met for its fifteenth meeting, via teleconference, on Wednesday 16 December 2020.

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

The Council received an update on the status of the Department of Health's compliance activities regarding advertisement of medicinal cannabis products, including the investigation of complaints alleging non-compliance and details of education campaigns underway.

Industry discussions

The Council welcomed representatives from the Australian Medicinal Cannabis Association for a discussion on their establishment and industry challenges and concerns.

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 the status of licences, permits and applications.

Members were advised of the decision to amend Schedule 3 of the current Poisons Standard to include a new entry for cannabidiol.

The Council also discussed the vote by the Commission on Narcotic Drugs (CND) on six World Health Organisation (WHO) recommendations relating to cannabis. The Council were advised of the CND's decision to adopt the first recommendation, to delete cannabis and cannabis resin from Schedule IV of the Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs 1961 (the Single Convention) as amended, but noted that cannabis will remain in Schedule I of the Single Convention. See: Commission on Narcotic Drugs votes on recommendations for cannabis and cannabis related substances.

Special Access Scheme (SAS) Online Portal

The Council received an update on the Special Access Schemes (SAS), including an overview of data regarding patient access to medicinal cannabis products via different access pathways. Members noted that approvals continued to increase with approximately 6,000 applications per month.

The Council was also advised the cost of medicinal cannabis products continued to trend downwardly and that some health funds were now providing rebates for medicinal cannabis products.

Next meeting

The Council agreed to meet again in April 2021 (by teleconference).