CANBERRA, Feb. 22 (PNA/Xinhua) — The Australian government on Wednesday approved the sale of medicinal marijuana, with the nation’s Health Minister Greg Hunt announcing that he expects cannabis-based treatments to be widely available for prescription within eight weeks.
Under government changes, patients will be able to freely obtain locally-grown marijuana with a prescription from doctors, while Hunt added that, for the “first time in history,” the government would allow the importation of the drug as an interim supply before the local industry can meet the patient demand.
“What this means is that there will be a supply to meet all Australian demand,” Hunt told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) on Wednesday.
“We want to get on right now in making easier and faster access available for patients who are ultimately the real users of safe, high quality, appropriately-obtained medicine.”
Last year, the federal government legalised medicinal cannabis use, while the news comes just a day after the state of Victoria announced its first crop of purpose-grown cannabis had been harvested and was ready to be tested for mainstream use.
Hunt said the drug would be imported before the local supply can effectively support the industry.
“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,” Hunt 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.”
Currently, patients who require medicinal marijuana to treat their illnesses are forced to wait, as products are sources on a “case-by-case” basis from overseas.