A locally-grown supply won’t be ready in time.
Last month, VICE reported Victoria had harvested Australia’s first ever state-grown medicinal cannabis crop, which would be distributed to young epilepsy patients sometime this year. Today, the Victorian Government announced that while this local cannabis is being tested and prepared, it will distribute cannabidiol medication fast tracked from Canada to 29 critically ill children as a stopgap measure.
Through the import scheme, the Andrews Government hopes to keep its promise of delivering medicinal cannabis to the young patients in a timely fashion. While it estimates local supplies will be ready by the end of the year, the government’s media release acknowledges that, “For families with the most severely ill children, every day without this life-changing medicine is one day too long.”
“This is too important to wait. That’s why we’re doing everything we can to make sure those families in the greatest need can access this life-changing treatment for their kids as soon as possible,” Premier Daniel Andrews commented.
“This is the first time in Victoria kids with severe epilepsy will be able to legally access medicinal cannabis.”
A small amount of cannabidiol oral solution has been purchased from Canadian company Tilray, and it arrived in Melbourne late last week. Tilray is Canada’s leading supplier of medicinal cannabis products, describing itself as the country’s only “Good Manufacturing Practice”-certified purveyor of cannabis. Their website reveals that the company offers a pretty extensive range of products, sadly only available to Canadians.
The imported solution will benefit 29 Victorian children, who’ve been selected by a specialist panel. The children suffer from multiple daily seizures, and “are unable to participate in the normal day to day activities of a child.” It’s hoped that the cannabis medication will ease these symptoms. Other children with severe intractable epilepsy “will be eligible to access the locally grown and manufactured product when it becomes available in the coming months.”
The scheme may be a response to the federal government’s announcement that it will take measures to speed up the delivery process to supply more Australians with safe medicinal cannabis products from overseas. The federal Office of Drug Control estimates that within as few as eight weeks, Australians will be able to purchase from a surplus of imported medicinal cannabis from “approved international sources” until domestic suppliers catch up.
Wherever you are in Australia, it’s slowly getting easier to access medicinal weed.