The first two commercial batches of medicinal cannabis in Australia have arrived in Perth and Melbourne.
Both shipments originate from Canada and are to be held by Health House International in Western Australia and Pharmaceutical Packaging Professionals in Victoria, according to federal health minister Greg Hunt.
“Children suffering from epilepsy and patients dealing with side effects caused by cancer treatment are most likely to benefit from these products,” he said.
“The new importation rules are making medicinal cannabis products more readily accessible to Australian doctors where they believe it can provide a clinical benefit to their patients.”
More shipments are expected to arrive in Australia this month, with 30 import permits granted since the federal government brought in the legal cannabis policy in February. The products will arrive again from Canada, as well Switzerland and the Netherlands.
The new rules have also seen five licences handed out for domestic medicinal cannabis cultivation, three for research cannabis cultivation and one for manufacturing therapeutic cannabis products.
Creso Pharma, which is working in Western Australia in conjunction with Health House International, welcomed the import while saying Australia is only now “catching up with community expectations”.
“Now these products will allow patients to have the option of medicinal cannabis treatments if it is prescribed by their physician. This is particularly important given the unmet but often immediate need to access a timely medicinal cannabis supply across Australia,” said Creso Pharma chief operating officer David Russell.
The Perth batch consists of three types of cannabis oils, originating from Canadian company CanniMed.
Minister Hunt said that the current import rules are temporary while the nascent industry matures, but doctors can now apply for the ability to prescribe cannabis therapies through the Therapeutic Goods Administration’s Special Access Scheme Category B or going via an Authorised Prescriber.