Federal Government Announces Fast-Tracking for Cannabis Licenses From September

Starting from 1 September cannabis companies will be able to have their applications fast-tracked if they have been award MPS.

In August 2019 the federal government announced that it would begin taking steps to slash the red tape regulations that have been holding back Australia's cannabis industry.

As part of this, the Federal Minister for Health, Greg Hunt, stated that the government would begin fast-tracking cannabis license applications for Australian companies that have been awarded Major Project Status (MPS) by the Department of Industry.

The move was prompted in part by a recently completed review of the Narcotic Drugs Act 1967, which recommended numerous "major congestion busting initiatives". These changes are expected to apply to the whole sector, and are aimed at promoting growth specifically in the cannabis cultivation, production and manufacturing industries.

"We welcome this collaborative arrangement between the Department of Health and Department of Industry. It showcases the Morrison Government's commitment to boosting local industry and helping those living with chronic or terminal illnesses."

– Federal Minister for Health, Greg Hunt

The Health Minister, Greg Hunt, has confirmed that the government has agreed to adopt the recommended proposals, which are expected to significantly reduce the substantial regulatory burden typically placed on new licensees.

"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," Hunt 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."

These sentiments were also echoed by the Federal Minister for Industry, Science and Technology, Karen Andrews, who described the arrangement as a streamlining measure intended to aid 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," Andrews said.

"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 new prioritisation initiative came into effect on 1 September, and will allow applicants with MPS to have their medicinal cannabis applications fast-tracked by the Office of Drug Control. More than 10,000 prescriptions have now been written for medicinal cannabis products in Australia, as of 30 June, 2019.

Unfortunately the goods is too little too late for investors in Elixinol Global—the Australian cannabis and hemp manufacturer—after the company was left stuck waiting for more than a year for its cannabis license approval, before it was finally granted in July 2019.

At the time, the CEO of Elixinol, Stratos Karousos, stated that "the granting of the Manufacture Licence is extremely exciting and we look forward to also being granted our Medicinal Cannabis Licence shortly which will complete our licence application process for Nunyara."

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Hugo Gray
Hugo Gray

Hugo Gray is a Melbourne-based journalist with a body of work that covers a diverse range of topics, including immigration law, sex technology, and now the rapidly expanding cannabis industry.

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