Australia’s latest 2020-21 budget has prioritised growth in the medical cannabis industry, according to a document released by the Department of Health.
The 2020-21 budget revealed that Australia will spend a total of $507 billion in support for the COVID-19 pandemic. At the end of 2020-21, this is expected to leave Australia with a cash deficit of $213.7 billion.
Despite this, the medical cannabis industry has thrived with the Department of Health valuing the industry close to $1.8 billion. This is significantly higher than previous reports, which have valued the industry at $95 million by the end of 2020.
As of the 28th of September, the Therapeutic Goods Administration has greenlit over 65,000 medical cannabis prescriptions under the Authorised Prescriber (AP) and Special Access Schemes (SAS).
On June 30th 2020, Australia had issued 114 licenses to medical cannabis companies, many of which operate in rural and regional communities like Toowoomba. The Office of Drug Control expects 140 licenses to be in place by the end of June 2021.
Since 2017 the government has been investing in medical cannabis through the Improving Access to Medicines Scheme.
This measure will support the continued operation and growth of the Australia medicinal cannabis industry in supplying high-quality products to patients both locally and internationally.
Going forward, the government has promised to invest an additional $1.7 million from 2020-21 to 2023-24 into the Office of Drug Control to supplement the growth of the medical cannabis industry. The cash influx will target administration costs in cannabis research, cultivation and manufacturing regulation, allowing applications and licenses to be processed faster.
Long term, this is designed to increase the number of jobs within the industry and improve medical cannabis access for patients. A recent report found patients are still paying an average of $384 for medical cannabis monthly. You can read that report here.