By Stephanie Anderson.
The Federal Government has approved the sale of medicinal marijuana after the first licence for private cultivation was issued last week.
The drug — used to treat patients with chronic or painful illnesses including cancer, severe epilepsy and motor neurone disease — could be available under the Government’s new scheme in eight weeks.
Currently, the medication is sourced from overseas on a case-by-case basis, a system involving delays.
Health Minister Greg Hunt will today announce it can be sold in Australia, if patients visit their doctor to request it.
Mr Hunt told the ABC the change would ensure there were sufficient supplies for “all of the medical demand”.
“That won’t happen overnight, but what we’ve done here is issue a call for people to be able to establish an interim supply for and within Australia through importation,” he said.
“Last year, the law was put in place which made medicinal cannabis available. Now however I want to … deal immediately with the question of supply.”
The Government last year legalised medicinal cannabis use and states regulate its cultivation, with Victoria having already harvested its first cannabis crop for medicinal use by people with epilepsy.
Mr Hunt praised Victoria for its work in cultivating the crop, citing the need for “safe, high quality, appropriately obtained medicine”.
He said there was also a private cultivation program being developed for long-term supply with the first licence issued last week.