Australia’s Office of Drug Control will start accepting applications for cannabis cultivation licenses on Monday, one day after the federal medical marijuana legislation takes effect, according to a report from the Australian Broadcasting Company. The applicants must show that they will be supplying either a researcher or licensed manufacturer in order to be considered for the program.
MGC Pharmaceuticals, AusCann and Bedrocan Australia, which has ties to the Dutch company of the same name and Canada’s Tilray, all indicated they would apply for licenses.
Elaine Darby, AusCann managing director, said the company hopes to have its first crop planted the middle of next year, with products available toward the end of next year.
“Initially AusCann’s products will be used in some of our clinical studies as well as provided to clinicians who wish to provide from the outset and the key demand areas at this point seem to be chronic neuropathic pain and treatment-resistant epilepsy,” she said in the report.
The Motley Fool Australia’s Tom Richardson estimates Australia’s medical cannabis market could reach $75 million per year, but suggested that investing in the nascent market was not a sure bet due to the many unknowns of the industry including the fact that the government could choose to shut it down at any time.
“Some of Australia’s largest healthcare companies — such as Cochlear that make hearing aids, CSL that make emergency hospital products, or Resmed that makes sleep treatment products — these are all multi-billion dollar markets, so $75 million a year is really a drop in the ocean,” he said.
One of the most prominent medical cannabis activists in the country, Lucy Haslam, said that she had bought a farm with the intention of growing cannabis as soon as the government allowed, but that due to the high-powered corporations making their way in and its potential as “a cut-throat industry” she will not apply for a license.
“We’re seeing large companies that are very cashed up looking to come to Australia so it is at risk of being all about money rather than all about patients,” she said.
Haslam is also concerned that a “convoluted and complicated” system will just force people to stick with the informal market. So, for now, she plans on focusing her efforts on education.
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