8 August 2017

From June 2017, the Office of Drug Control (ODC) sought comment from interested parties on the export of Australian cultivated and manufactured medicinal cannabis products.

The consultation process included seeking written submissions, holding two industry seminars on the regulatory scheme (including discussing the proposal for export) and hosting over a dozen private industry meetings on narcotic drug licencing and export related issues. Written submissions closed on the 21 July 2017.

Over 40 written submissions were received from a variety of private companies (incorporating pharmaceutical manufacture companies, cultivators and manufacturers), professional associations, consultancies and individuals.

ODC would like to thank those who took the time to prepare a submission or meet with ODC and provide valuable comments and suggestions.

Feedback

Consultation question Comments received
Should Australia allow the export of medicinal cannabis products?

There was overwhelming support for allowing the export of medicinal cannabis products.

Some of the reasons provided justifying export included:

  • Australia is an ideal supply source (well regulated, low domestic consumption, ideal and consistent growing conditions and low cost).
  • There is a current global shortage
  • Ability to tap into larger markets compared with what can be offered in Australia
  • Australia has ethical farming practices and a well-governed image to become a major player internationally
  • Foreign investment opportunities
  • Australia's competitive edge through geographic location (e.g. growing conditions, amount of annual sunlight)
  • Economic growth, tax benefits, creation of new jobs
  • Will facilitate the growth of an emerging industry
  • Opportunity to invest in research.

The small number of respondents who did not support export explained that this position reflected the importance of securing adequate supply for the domestic market first.

How might domestic patient access be maintained?

Responses around how domestic patient access might be maintained were varied; however, the most common themes were:

  • Doing nothing and allowing the market to dictate supply
  • Introducing an industry code of practice
  • Imposing conditions on licences to guarantee domestic supply
  • Public commitment to supply to the Australian market
  • Additional comments

    While outside of the scope of the discussion, other comments were provided outlining:

    • the importance of improved harmonisation between existing state and territory and Commonwealth regulatory frameworks
    • focusing on the continuing education of physicians to build the Australian market in parallel to export.

    What will happen next

    The outcomes of the consultation process will be put to government to decide the next steps. Possible outcomes might include:

    • note the findings of the consultation process but take no further action,
    • accept the findings and then seek to make changes to the Narcotic Drugs Regulation 2016, or
    • accept the findings but defer any changes until a later date.

    Enquiries

    Enquiries should be directed via email to DCS@health.gov.au.