Until this barrier is overcome, medical cannabis products will never become mainstream in Australia.
Earlier this year, Australia’s Capital Territory made Australia’s history when it legalized cannabis possession and cultivation for adult use, leading many to believe that Australia was beginning its journey to all-out cannabis legalization. Though as many will know, the ACT’s legalization of cannabis wasn’t exactly a great forward leap for the Land Down Under. While adults can now grow up to two plants, individuals cannot buy or sell cannabis or seeds, meaning that the country is still a ways off from having a recreational market that can generate tax revenue and shrink the black market.
As a result of this piecemeal legislation, a recent poll of over 1,300 Australians revealed that just 2.5% of respondents sourced their cannabis legally. Precisely how indicative this poll is of the total condition of Australia’s cannabis industry is uncertain, though at the very least it shows that Australia has a long way to go before cannabis can be considered “mainstream.”
Though it isn’t all doom and gloom, as Australia’s cannabis industry has definitely been making strides in recent years, with June seeing a record-high level of Special Access B approvals for patients to be prescribed cannabinoid medicines. Moreover, until the country has some kind of recreational market, Australia’s medicinal cannabis market is where we must place our attention.
This is why it’s important to the potential barriers to the prescription of cannabis medicines, to see what might be holding the industry back from growing further. In fact, barriers to prescription are precisely what was discussed at the Senate Inquiry in March this year, which resulted in the tabling of 20 recommendations that, if implemented, should improve the conditions of the Australian medical cannabis industry.
One of the primary barriers, as is to be expected with any nascent industry, is pricing. Currently, cannabinoid medicines aren’t subsidized through the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS), which means that patients aren’t able to get access to the financial rebates that come with…