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Business plan: January-June 2022

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Message from the Deputy Secretary

Welcome to the inaugural Business Plan for the Office of Drug Control (ODC), the first of what will become an annual publication.

This Business Plan sets out our regulation, regulatory reform, stakeholder education and engagement, and compliance agenda for the remainder of the 2021-22 financial year. It supplements the Health Portfolio Budget Statements and the Department of Health Corporate Plan.

Over the last few years there has been a significant amount of change in relation to the regulation of narcotic drugs in Australia, in particular, due to the growth of medicinal cannabis industry. To ensure the appropriateness of Australia’s regulatory framework for medicinal cannabis, in 2019 the Australian Government commissioned a significant review of the scheme, which was undertaken by Professor John McMillan AO. The ODC has been progressively implementing the Review recommendations, culminating in the introduction on 24 December 2021 of a single licence framework with simplified permit arrangements for regulating medicinal cannabis cultivation, production and manufacture activities. These reforms are aimed at reducing the regulatory burden and increasing operational flexibility for industry.

The Government, as part of its Pacific Step-up initiative, recently implemented a two-year pilot program for the commercial importation of kava. The Department of Health, through the ODC, is the lead agency for the kava pilot, which includes a comprehensive evaluation to inform recommendations to Government at the conclusion of the pilot.

Adjunct Prof John Skerritt FTSE FIPAA (Vic)

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