Following enquiries from AMCA and SCCAC, the Office of Medicinal Cannabis (OMC), Health VIC, has confirmed that the suspension of Victorian S8 permit requirements via Public Health Emergency Order #6 will expire on 27 March 2021.
This was apparently previously detailed on the health department’s Medicines and Poisons page, but was, unfortunately, prematurely deleted.
As a result of the expiry, from 28 March all registered Victorian medical practitioners and nurse practitioners will be required to apply for a Schedule 8 permit when prescribing a Schedule 8 medicinal cannabis product (i.e. a product containing >2% THC), noting existing exemptions for permit requirements when prescribing to some patients.
The Victorian Schedule 8 permit system is currently under review and the department has recently surveyed prescribers (via KPMG) to gain an understanding of their views towards the Schedule 8 permit system. This survey closed on 14 March 2021 and will assist in determining whether there is a role for the S8 Permit System moving forward.
The Office of Medicinal Cannabis (Health VIC) has advised AMCA that it is, unfortunately, not able to advise on the timeframe for when any decision will be made regarding S8 permits.
The OMC will be updating information on its webpage accordingly. AMCA will keep its members informed of further developments.
Leading scientist Justin Sinclair, an Adjunct Research Fellow at NICM Health Research Institute at Western Sydney University, has just joined medicinal cannabis company Australian Natural Therapeutics Group as Chief Scientific Officer, where he will move into a front-line, product development role after decades of study, research, education and advocacy in the field of medicinal cannabis.
“‘Facta non verba. Deeds, not words’, is my one of my favourite Latin sayings,” says Mr Sinclair.“One of the things I first noticed about Australian Natural Therapeutics Group (ANTG) is they are very deeds focused,” he adds.
ANTG was recently issued the country’s first GACP & GMP-accreditation, meaning it has the highest level of growing and production in the Southern Hemisphere; it produces four high-quality strains of cannabis flower as well as oil extract for research and clinical trials and is working on a $92 million, 10-year export deal with the European Union.
“Quality assurance is absolutely imperative and it’s something I’m very passionate about,” says Mr Sinclair.
Mr Sinclair will be working on projects which include pre-clinical research with the University of Newcastle around ANTGs Eve Cannabis’ potential to kill or inhibit cancer cells, and a partnership with the Western Sydney University’s NICM Health Research Institute on using cannabis-based medicine for cognitive function in people with mild cognitive impairment.
He will also continue his own doctoral research on medicinal cannabis for endometriosis and will head up the development of a compassionate access program at ANTG.
“Attracting Mr Sinclair to the team is a real win for the company, he is one of the leading educators in Australia on the topics of cannabis and the endocannabinoid system,” says ANTG chief executive officer Matt Cantelo.
“There is about to be a big shift away from Canadian medicinal cannabis products in Australia and Mr Sinclair’s move will expedite that,” he says.
“One option is to continue importing sub-standard products from Canada, or we can level the playing field in Australia and bring the best possible person in to do that - and that’s what we have done.”
“Our intention is to lower the cost of this medicine for the Australian consumer, without lowering quality. We have already beaten the price where we can.”
“Now as we are scaling up, we will be in more of a position to pass on those savings in the future.”But to do that, Mr Sinclair says the current stigma surrounding medicinal cannabis consumption needs to change.
“The first step is going to be the de-stigmatisation of medicinal cannabis. In the not-too-distant future we will see it accepted as an everyday medical treatment,” says Mr Sinclair.
“Because of the high standards in Australia it will also be a major export.”
Justin’s passion for herbal medicines began in the 1990s after spending years in the United States learning from the Native American’s use of plants as medicine.
Soon after he began studying at the University of New England, completing a Bachelor of Health Sciences and a Master of Herbal Medicine with the University of Sydney’s Faculty of Pharmacy – and would end up playing a part in shaping the Australian medicinal cannabis industry as we know it today.
About Australian Natural Therapeutics GroupFormed in 2015, ANTG came about following personal experiences of the founder and CEO. It now produces four strains of medicinal cannabis flower, and is about to start production of four oil combinations. It was issued the country’s first GACP & GMP-accreditation and partners with research organisations including CSIRO, University of Newcastle and University of Western Sydney, to unlock the potential of cannabis in the fight against cancer, dementia and inflammation. For more information visit https://australiannatural.com
ANTG was founded in 2015 by former Corporate Travel Management chief operating officer Matt Cantelo, after he had seen first hand the health and socio-economic benefits of legalising medical cannabis in Denver, Colorado, while working in the region.
Mr Cantelo told The Australian Financial Review this deal was more than two years in the making – pre-pandemic travel restrictions – and represented a significant milestone not just for the company, but the local industry.
"We flew to Germany and got to know Cannamedical Pharma's CEO David Henn and realised he had similar values. In the next six months, he flew to Australia and inspected our site before we finished construction and gave us advice on how to be Good Agricultural and Collection Practices (GACP) and Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP) approved.
"At the time there wasn't anyone certified under that regulation in Australia and David helped us build this facility to full GACP European standards, as well as Australian standards, and that put us in good stead to sell dry flower to Germany.
"We are the first local growers to crack the EU market, which currently receives the majority of imported products from Canada and The Netherlands."
Without GACP certification, growers can only export oil or other secondary products in Germany.
Germany is the third-largest market for medical cannabis, behind the US and Canada.
This is a content preview space you can use to get your audience interested in what you have to say so they can’t wait to learn and read more. Pull out the most interesting detail that appears on the page and write it here.
Australia has broken into the European medicinal cannabis market with the first batch in a decade-long, multi-million deal on its way to Germany.
The $92 million export agreement marks the start of a trade partnership with the region, which is forecast to become the world's largest legal market.
Health Minister Greg Hunt says Australia is poised to become a recognised leader in the global supply of the highest quality medicinal cannabis products.
"Australia's gold-standard regulation of medicinal cannabis products, coupled with a premium agricultural and manufacturing industry, means we are well positioned to become a preferred supplier," Mr Hunt said on Thursday.
"This has the potential to create jobs and boost economic growth in Australia as we look to new and different export channels."
The 10-year deal will initially see about two tonnes of locally grown and dried cannabis flowers shipped over the next 18 months.
"This is a major win for the industry in Australia," Australian Natural Therapeutics Group chief executive Matt Cantelo said.
"While the German cannabis industry is still in its infancy, it is (already) the third-largest market globally behind the US and Canada".
ANTG are the first local growers to crack the EU market, which currently receives the majority of imported products from Canada and The Netherlands.
"Now that we have the gold standard in growing and manufacturing medicinal cannabis - in line with the most stringent in the world - it means our product also qualifies for export to every other nation," Mr Cantelo said.
The market for medicinal cannabis in Germany is expected to grow rapidly in the next decade and reach $12.4 billion by 2028, according to ANTG.
Mr Cantelo said Australia's tough regulatory framework had set the local industry up as the best in the world.
"Australia also has the reputation and climate for growing excellent produce in general - it makes sense that we would produce the highest quality, non-irradiated medicinal cannabis product as well," he said.
Federal parliament in June passed legislation authorising the export of medicinal cannabis and hemp into more overseas markets.
It gives farmers access to export opportunities in Southeast Asia, China, Canada and the lucrative US market, along with Europe.
The new laws also mean Australia will be able to certify legitimate exports of narcotic products, helping producers export to countries and regions that need government approval, such as the European Union, which holds the strictest regulations on imports.