The first licence to legally grow marijuana in Australia has been issued

Photo: Uriel Sinai/ Getty.

Australia has issued its first licence to grow medical marijuana to Cann Group.

The permit issued by the Office of Drug Control (ODC) allows Cann to legally cultivate medicinal cannabis and conduct research on the use of cannabis for medicine, the privately-held company said in an e-mailed statement.

The company has also submitted an application to the ODC for a cultivation licence and said it was confident of securing it.

The licence comes a year after the Australian government passed new national laws paving the way for the use of medicinal cannabis by people with painful and chronic illness. Amendments to the Narcotic Drugs Act permitted both legally-grown cannabis for the manufacture of medicinal cannabis products in Australia.

Recreational cannabis cultivation and use remains illegal with state-based criminal laws still in place.

Under the federal scheme, patients with a valid prescription can possess and use medicinal cannabis products manufactured from cannabis legally cultivated in Australia, provided the supply has been authorised under the Therapeutic Goods Act and relevant state and territory legislation.

The changes put medical cannabis in the same category as restricted medicinal drugs such as morphine.

“The licence allows us to apply for a permit to progress our research and development programs, which are particularly focused on the breeding, cultivation, extraction and characterisation of cannabinoids,” Cann Group chairman Allan McCallum said.

“It will also mean we can further discussions we have underway with a number of leading Australian research and technology organisations to access additional expertise and resources.

“As the medical evidence continues to evolve, it is expected that demand for safe, efficacious medicinal cannabis products will grow.”

Cann’s research and development team have operated under an ‘Authority for Low–THC Cannabis’ issued by the Victorian state government.