A cannabis plant tilted sideways from the weight of its heavy cola, pictured inside of a licensed cultivation center in Washington.

Rory Savatgy

Australia’s Revised MMJ Rules Not Improving Access

Despite a ruling by Australia’s Therapeutic Goods Administration to make medical cannabis more available for patients, some lawmakers are arguing that the scheme has actually made access more difficult, the Australian Broadcasting Company reports.

Under the original plan, first approved in 1992, a limited number of patients were allowed access to medical cannabis, under what was known as Category A. Under that scheme, physicians were allowed to prescribe cannabis to terminally ill patients without needing to seek prior authorization. However, under the new Category B scheme, prior approval is required. Green Party leader Richard Di Natale says means there is no longer fast access to two specific cannabis-based drugs.

“So it’s fair to say that it’s now harder to access medicinal cannabis or related products than it was prior to this legislation, through Category A,” he said in the report.

Professor John Skerritt, the Health Department deputy secretary in charge of drug regulation, said that while officials are working to improve access under the new regime, “there’s product sitting in warehouses in major capital cities of Australia, and the Commonwealth is taking two days in its approvals.”

“There are supplies of the cannabidiol-rich medicines sitting in Australia, sufficient to treat many hundreds if not thousands of children, so they basically have to go through the process,” he said.

Skerritt said that there are just 24 physicians authorized to prescribe medical cannabis in Australia and fewer than 150 people have ever been given approval.

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