Weed Week: Federal government takes steps to fast track medical marijuana licences
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The federal government has taken steps to cut red tape and speed up the granting of licences for Australia’s cannabis players.
Health Minister Greg Hunt said the federal government would boost the nation’s medicinal cannabis industry by prioritising projects that have been granted major project status.
A recently completed review of the Narcotic Drugs Act 1967 recommended major congestion busting initiatives for medicinal cannabis cultivation, production and manufacturing that would apply to the whole sector.
Two proposed changes would simplify the administration of the medicinal cannabis scheme and remove impediments to developing the Australian medicinal cannabis industry.
Changes to the Narcotic Drugs Regulation 2016 would reduce the regulatory burden on licence applicants, and reduce the time it takes to apply and what level of detail is required.
Medical marijuana licences would be granted through the Department of Health’s Office of Drug Control from September 1 this year.
The Office of Drug Control has so far issued 69 licences to cultivate, produce or manufacture medicinal cannabis.
According to the federal government, as of June 30, 2019, over 10,000 prescriptions had been written in Australia for medicinal cannabis products.
Around 7,196 patients have been authorised to access a medicinal cannabis product through the Special Access and Authorised Prescriber Schemes.
Oromucosal drug delivery company SUDA Pharmaceuticals (ASX:SUD) expressed its support for the move.
SUDA is developing an oral spray of pharmaceutical-grade cannabinoid derivatives as part of a deal with Zelda Therapeutics (ASX:ZLD) and also recently inked a deal with Cann Pharmaceutical Australia to develop a CBD oral spray for the treatment of drug resistant epilepsy, melanoma and motion sickness.
The cannabis industry has an unlikely advocate in celebrity chef Pete Evans, better known as “Paleo Pete”.
Last weekend Evans presented a segment on medicinal cannabis on the Seven Network’s Sunday Night, at the same time Aussie actress and singer Olivia Newton-John, who has stage four cancer, also offered her views on medical marijuana on Nine Network’s 60 Minutes.
But industry supporters were a little worried Evans would do more harm than good given his controversial views on things like diet and vaccinations.
One expert reckons Newton-John was much more persuasive.
Dr David Caldicott, senior lecturer in medicine at the Australian National University, told The Daily Telegraph on Monday that the singer’s words would carry more weight for one very solid reason: she is a patient.
This week Sydney-based start-up Greenfield MC revealed it would be partnering with Canadian licensed producer EPHS Holdings to cultivate medicinal cannabis in Australia.
EPHS is a US-listed commercial cannabis producer with grow operations in Canada.
Cultivation under the joint venture is expected to begin in late-2020.
The partners are currently scouting potential locations, with Queensland’s Sunshine Coast of particular interest due to its favourable climate and natural light-cycle.
MGC Pharma (ASX:MXC) will begin selling its nutraceutical products to Chinese consumers, following a successful trial with leading e-commerce platform YuShop.
Althea Group (ASX:AGH) reported a record-breaking July, treating 334 new patients at a rate of 14.5 per day. It has treated a total of 1,523.
The company credited the result to broader activity in the cannabis market.
Althea also entered an arrangement with private cannabis company Tetra to be its education and distribution partner in Australia.
Botanix Pharmaceuticals (ASX:BOT) raised $38.2m of the $40m it was targeting.
The company is developing cannabis-based medications for skin conditions, but it also has a research line in its use as an antibacterial.
Botanix said it is now fully funded to progress its first antimicrobial program into clinical studies and undertake supportive studies required prior to Phase 3 studies.
Creso Pharma (ASX:CPH) has inked an exclusive distribution agreement with New Zealand partner Medleaf, which will sell Creso’s cannaQIX®50 therapeutic lozenges and its CBD Oils.
Last week, the company revealed it had received an order for its cannaQIX 50 therapeutic cannabis lozenges from Burleigh Heads Cannabis.
Roots Sustainable Agricultural Technologies (ASX:ROO) revealed late last week that its proprietary Root Zone Temperature Optimization (RZTO) heating technology could increase the harvest yield on cannabis flowers by 40 per cent.
The news followed successful testing of the technology on a crop in California.
Roots said it would use the commercial demonstration to further illustrate the effectiveness of the technology and generate interest from the broader North American cannabis market.
Impression Healthcare (ASX:IHL) has gone into a trading halt pending news of a “material medicinal cannabis oil supply agreement”.
This follows news last week that the company has been named as concussion research partner of ONE Championship, rival to the UFC.
Impression is investigating the use of CBD to treat concussion and traumatic brain injury in sportspeople.
CropLogic (ASX:CLI) has executed a supply agreement with Deschutes Labs, a new industrial hemp processing facility located in Central Oregon in the US.
The deal has been restricted to 30 per cent of CropLogic’s production estimate.
The company will start supplying Deschutes Labs with biomass from October 20.
Here’s a table of stocks with exposure to cannabis:
Scroll or swipe to reveal table. Click headings to sort.