As of October 30, 2016, “fit and proper” (read: not felons) people and organizations in Australia can cultivate medicinal marijuana crops for people on their own continent. Previously, medical cannabis patients down under had to consume imported medical cannabis for their medical issues, but not anymore. The Narcotic Drugs Amendment Act 2016 will finally legalize license cannabis cultivation in Australia and cannabis resin production for both the medical and scientific arenas.
What Is the Australian Narcotic Drugs Amendment Act of 2016?
The amendment only applies to Australia, and is a revision of the Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs, established in 1961 by Australia’s parliament to regulate drugs (including cannabis) in its country. Although medicinal cannabis cultivation and production facilities are now legal in Australia, recreational cannabis use is still illegal. Whether or not an organization or person is “fit and proper” and can be allowed to cultivate marijuana will be up to the individual states and territories of Australia to decide.
Getting in on the Australian Medical Cannabis Market
The Australian Office of Drug Control started accepting cannabis cultivation licenses on Monday, November 1, 2016, and there are many parties interested, both nationally and internationally – it is a market that may take in upwards of $75 million annually, according to Tom Richardson of the Motley Fool Australia. Bedrocan Australia (linked to Bedrocan Holland and Tilray of Canada), MGC Pharmaceuticals, and AusCann (partnered with Canopy Growth Corp) are applying for Australian licensure immediately.
Australian-based cultivators have to prove that their growing sites are secure, and there are fears that if the system is too complicated people will continue buying medical cannabis on the black market, as noted on the Medican Australia website. In addition, the cultivators have to demonstrate where the cannabis will be going (a licensed medicinal cannabis research facility or manufacturer), and pass the Australian version of a background check. Auscann hopes to be distributing cannabis products by the end of 2017, and said that Australian physician demand for medical cannabis “was already strong.”
Investors can invest in medical cannabis in Australia with one of four companies currently on the stock market – MMJ Phytotech Ltd (ASX:MMJ), TW Holdings Ltd (ASX: TWH), for example. Tom Richardson cautioned potential investors that the Australian medical cannabis biz still has multiple hurdles to jump as far as creating and implementing regulations and legalities, warning that “policy in this sector could change quite quickly.” Richardson is referring to what may happen if medical cannabis patients in Australia get sick or injure themselves as a result of their cannabis consumption.
How Medical Cannabis Became Legal in Australia
The Australian parliament legalized medical marijuana back in February of 2016, and the cultivation aspect is just a part of the country’s long-term plan to dump its resources into cannabis research across many different areas. Prior to legalization of MMJ, even registered cannabis patients were forced to import their medicine just as they are in many other countries. With the new laws, patients like 25-year-old terminal bowel cancer victim Daniel Haslam will be able to obtain and consume medical cannabis to treat their illnesses without an international runaround. Lucy, Daniel’s mother, started United in Compassion to petition for medical cannabis legalization in the Australian parliament.