Federal government moves to back medicinal cannabis sector

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The federal government has announced it will move to support the local medicinal cannabis industry by prioritising projects that have been granted Major Project Status (MPS).

MPS, managed through the federal Department of Industry, is awarded to projects considered to have the potential to make a significant contribution to exports, jobs and industry development, particularly in rural and regional areas.

Health minister Greg Hunt said the arrangement will give applicants with MPS priority to medicinal cannabis licences through the Office of Drug Control in the Department of Health.

This new prioritisation will commence on the 1 September 2019.

The Office of Drug Control has so far issued 69 licences to cultivate, produce or manufacture medicinal cannabis.

Industry and science minister Karen Andrews said the arrangement was about eliminating red tape which can hold back major projects.

"The Morrison Government is committed to making it as streamlined as possible for companies to invest and do business in Australia, so we can grow the economy and create new jobs," said Minister Andrews.

"The projects will still have to meet all of the approvals required, but this arrangement will make sure that they are not being held up by unnecessary delays."

The recently completed review of the Narcotic Drugs Act 1967 also recommended initiatives to support medicinal cannabis cultivation, production and manufacturing.

Two proposed changes will simplify the administration of the medicinal cannabis scheme and remove impediments to developing the Australian medicinal cannabis industry.

Minister Hunt said the government has agreed in principle to adopt all 26 recommendations of the review conducted by Professor John McMillian.

"Cutting red tape and streamlining processes will strengthen this important and evolving industry, and ensure medicinal cannabis is available to Australian patients under proper medical supervision," he said.

"As part of these changes the Government will also work towards a single licence model so there will now be one application for a medicinal cannabis licence covering cultivation, production, manufacture and research activities."