11 June 2021

The Australian Advisory Council on the Medicinal Use of Cannabis, Communiqué #16

The Australian Advisory Council on the Medicinal Use of Cannabis (the Council) met for its sixteenth meeting, via teleconference, on Friday 9 April 2021.

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

Third tenure of the Australian Advisory Council on the Medicinal Use of Cannabis

Council members were advised of the Minister’s agreement to the renewal of the Council for a third tenure of two years, commencing 1 July 2021. The Minister identified that the deliberations and advice of the Council are of great value.

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

Industry discussions

The Council welcomed the Chairman of the Medicinal Cannabis Industry Association who gave a short presentation on the ACannabis Evolve 2021 meeting. The virtual conference focused on the affordability and availability of Medicinal Cannabis for patients, the need to strengthen the evidence base, and going forward enforcing a code of conduct.

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 updated on industry responses to the decision to down-schedule low-dose cannabidiol preparations from Schedule 4 (Prescription Medicine) to Schedule 3 (Pharmacist Only Medicine). The rescheduling has attracted some attention. The TGA is confident that safety reviews show no significant concern on lower doses.

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 a significant milestone of 100,000 prescriptions having been written in Australia for unapproved medicinal cannabis products.

Next meeting

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