19 October 2018

The Australian Advisory Council on the Medicinal Use of Cannabis met on 9 August 2018 in Melbourne for its seventh meeting.

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

Members received a detailed update on the status of the regulatory schemes for the cultivation, production and manufacture of medicinal cannabis - including the status of licences and applications.

Regulatory updates - Regulatory changes in Canada

The Council discussed the recent amendments to Canadian legislation which allows for the recreational use of cannabis. Potential impacts on the Australian scheme were discussed.

Paediatric Epilepsy Lambert Initiative Cannabinoid Analysis (PELICAN) report

The Council discussed the findings of PELICAN report, published since the last Council meeting. The Council noted that main issues to be addressed from the paper were:

  • supporting access to consistent medicinal cannabis products across the states and territories, and
  • discouraging patient from accessing through the illicit market as such products are not standardised and could provide variable and potentially harmful results.

The Council were in agreement that cannabis products provided at a pharmaceutical grade should remain consistent, however in practice this is not the case for illicit cannabis products as supply and product varies, which leads to different patient responses each time they receive another supply.

Update on new SAS system including medicinal cannabis

The department announced that the SAS online submission system went live on 30 July 2018 for NSW, Victoria and Queensland prescribers. The next priority is to make the system available to other states and territories. This new system will require prescribers to fill out only one SAS form, which is then sent to both TGA and the relevant state. It was highlighted that the online system would be available for all SAS requests, including medicinal cannabis products.

Update on literature and international policy

Various papers were presented to the Advisory Council on recent literature and policies relevant to medicinal cannabis.

  • The recent UK decision on medicinal cannabis;
  • WHO Expert Committee on Drug Dependence (ECDD); and
  • Effect of cannabis use in people with chronic non-cancer pain prescribed opioids: findings from a 4-year prospective cohort study (POINT study).

Next meeting

The Advisory Council agreed to meet again in Canberra in November 2018.