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Medicinal Cannabis and the new regulatory framework

On 12 October 2016, the Palaszczuk Government passed the Public Health (Medicinal Cannabis) Bill 2016. The bill was passed unanimously. The bill provides a frame work for the prescription of and dispensary of medicinal cannabis products to Queensland patients. The Act provides two methods for clinicians to prescribe medicinal cannabis. Firstly, pursuant to Chapter 4, Part 2 of the Act, as a “patient-class prescriber” – that is, specialists who are authorised under Chapter 4 to prescribe for a specific condition which can be treated by cannabis products. Alternatively, through the “single-patient prescribers” scheme which, pursuant to Chapter 4, Part 3 of the Act, allows authorised general practitioners and specialists to prescribe authorised patients medicinal cannabis.
Approval from the Therapeutic Goods Administration and Queensland Health is required before medicinal marijuana can be prescribed by an approved doctor and supplied by an approved pharmacist.

Suitability to hold approval to prescribe

Section 10 of the Act provides a non-exhaustive list of factors that are to be considered when the chief executive is determining whether to grant, or allow the doctor to continue to hold authority to prescribe medicinal cannabis. For a full list of the factors considered, please see section 10 of the Act which can be located through the following link: https://www.legislation.qld.gov.au/Bills/55PDF/2016/B15_0408_Public_Health_(Medicinal_Cannabis)_Bill_2016.pdf

Authority to grow medicinal cannabis

Whilst the Act provides a framework for the prescription and dispensary of medicinal marijuana products to approved patients, it does not provide a framework for the legal cultivation of cannabis products. Queensland Council for Civil Liberties spokesman Michael Cope has made statements to the media encouraging the government to enact a scheme to support the establishment of a local supply industry. Mr Cope said: “Our understanding is it’s extremely difficult to get hold of because it’s only manufactured in a few countries and it’s being sold into other markets,” Accordingly, at this developing stage, it appears that the medicinal marijuana products will be imported either internationally or interstate. It would pleasing to see the government enact a framework for the legal growth of medicinal cannabis products.

Possession, production and supplying cannabis is still illegal

Importantly, the Act does not purport to decriminalise or otherwise support the possession, production or supplying of cannabis. The Act merely creates a framework for treatment of patient’s condition or symptoms which are not appropriately managed by other medication.

Fisher Dore can assist treating clinicians in the preparation of applications to the Chief Executive for approval.

-Elliot Boddice


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