New reports indicate that the first batch of cannabis oil has already been cultivated at a state facility in Victoria, and is ready to undergo the next phase of research, signaling another advancement in the country’s burgeoning acceptance of cannabis use.
The government of the state of Victoria issued the announcement, saying that the substance had been produced by the Victoria-based business Cann Group.
According to Victoria’s health minister, Jill Hennessy, the cultivation of cannabis fulfills the fundamental duty of the government’s elected officials.
We promised Victorians they would be able to access this life-changing treatment and every day brings us one step closer to delivering on this Australian first commitment.
First in line to receive the product is a group of 250 children who suffer from debilitating epilepsy. As the substance begins to see greater levels of production, it will also be provided to adult patients suffering from such medical conditions as HIV/AIDS, cancer, and multiple sclerosis.
Victoria was the first state to legalize the cultivation and use of cannabis – in April of 2016 – and has since also appropriated almost $30 million the Office of Medicinal Cannabis to oversee ways in which the substance is produced and distributed.
Australian cannabis law
Australia currently does not allow for the regular legal use of recreational cannabis. However, the substance is available for medicinal purposes, though physicians are forced to import the substance on a case-by-case basis that extends the time that patients must wait in order to receive their treatment.
The wait times often last several months. This is because Australia’s federal bureaucracy requires several hurdles through which those looking to obtain the substance must jump.
The government’s methodical approach is meant to assure that medical cannabis is actually effective in treating the medical conditions is it meant to address, says Professor Jennifer Martin, who chairs clinical pharmacology at the University of Newcastle.
Doctors here don’t want pressure to provide scripts yet because we want to make sure it’s actually safe and effective first.
The newly created oil is but one of several concurrent cannabis-related developments to recently take place in Australia.
The first-ever Australian license to produce cannabis was issued last week, with the company Cannoperations now cleared by the Office of Drug Control to offer both cultivation and research services into medical cannabis.
The government also indicated that it would allow for speedier importation of medical cannabis and its ancillary products, so as to act as a holdover before the country is more widely able to produce cannabis for medicinal purposes.
The federal government believes that it is likely to begin producing an adequate amount of cannabis for patient use by the middle of this year.
Until then, several members of the government have come out in favor of offering amnesty to medical cannabis patients, offering them protection from prosecution as they work to treat their medical conditions.