Australia’s health minister has announced medical cannabis producers in the nation will be able to export products to other countries with federal cannabis programs, according to an Australian Associated Press report.

“By helping the domestic manufacturers to expand, this, in turn, helps to ensure an ongoing supply of medicinal cannabis products here in Australia.” – Health Minister Greg Hunt to the AAP.

Exportation will require a federal permit and is expected to begin in February after parliament resumes and regulations are adopted. The regulations would likely allow exportation of cannabis-derived oils, sprays, tablets, and lozenges.

According to the report, Australia’s medical cannabis industry – legalized last year – is off to a slow start as just 350 patients have been approved to access the program so far. Hunt said that many in the Australian community are skeptical but that there are “no real government barriers at all to accessing medical cannabis” and the government is working with the Australian Medical Association and the College of General Practitioners “to ensure that doctors have the full information so they can ensure whether [cannabis] is or isn’t in the best interests of their patients.”

“It is up to individual doctors – governments shouldn’t interfere in the prescribing practices of individual doctors.” – Hunt to the AAP

The Australian government’s medical cannabis guidelines, released in December, advise physicians how to effectively use medical cannabis products to treat chronic pain and epilepsy, as well as information on whether patients with chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting, and terminally ill patients in palliative care could benefit from medical cannabis therapies.

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