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Legal Review of Narcotic Drugs Act Causes Concerns and Opportunities for Cultivators in Australia

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The Australian Government is soon to start an independent review of cannabis legislation, which will assess its efficiency and effectiveness, and provide recommendations for improvements.

Mandated under section 26A of the Narcotic Drugs Act 1967 (the Act), the review must be present to Parliament by 29 October, and will focus on three main aspects:

The review is going to focus on three main aspects:

  1. The licensing and permit structure.
  2. The provision of information and other administrative requirements; and
  3. The appropriateness of the compliance and enforcement regime.

This review will not include processes for patient access, as this is controlled by the Therapeutic Goods Act 1989.

However, there is potential that this review will lead to significant changes to the requirements for medicinal cannabis cultivation and manufacturing, especially for low CBD crops.

In many other countries, CBD can be extracted from hemp, generally cultivation as broad acre crops. Blaise Bratter, the General Manager of the Medicinal Cannabis Council, said “we often hear from our Members that the Government needs to loosen restrictions on low-THC cultivation, and that CBD should be allowed to be extracted from hemp. This review could be a key pathway for these changes to occur.”

This review also comes at a time when medicinal cannabis and its definitions within the Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs is also being reviewed by the United Nations.

The Single Convention provides the overarching laws dictating Australia’s obligations in regards to cannabis, its cultivation & manufacturing, supply, and reporting.

It interesting, and perhaps a shame, that the Commonwealth has not included the impact potential changes to the Single Convention, and our obligations under it, could have on the Act into this review.

Health Minister Hunt has appointed Professor John McMillan AO to review and report on the Act.

The Therapeutic Goods Administration is hosting public meetings regarding this review in early February. You can register for them here.

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Blaise Bratter
Blaise Bratter is the Chief Contributor to CannabisIntel. Being involved in the Australian cannabis industry since legalisation in 2016, he is now Operations Manager for ASX listed company MGC Pharmaceuticals.

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