Australia's Therapeutic Goods Association (TGA) has approved the highest number of medical cannabis applications last month. So, what's next for Australia's medicinal cannabis industry?
If the current COVID-19 pandemic has taught us anything it's that we are in the midst of changing times. Australia's medicinal cannabis industry appears to be no different. July saw the highest number of medicinal cannabis application approvals from the TGA, and things only seem to be looking up.
Medicinal cannabis has been federally legal in Australia since 2016. Despite its initial teething period, medical cannabis application approvals have been steadily increasing since 2018. Furthermore, the nation is now leaning toward favouring cannabis according to a national survey. The TGA's latest approval numbers through the Australia's Special Access Scheme – category B (SAS-B) only further reflect this.
The SAS is designed to allow approved health practitioners to seek out "unapproved" medicinal products that are not currently included in the Australian Register of Therapeutic Goods (ARTG). The only cannabis product that is included in the ARTG is Sativex.
For the month of July, the TGA approved a whopping 5,564 medicinal cannabis applications through the SAS-B.
According to TGA statistics this is an astounding 20% increase from June's approval numbers (4,630) and has more than doubled from July 2019 (2,206). In turn, numbers have jumped and consistently risen since April 2020.
However, the surge of approvals may not come as much of a surprise. It appears to be a result from a report released in April which states that CBD offers a safe profile in low doses (60mg/day).
This has led the TGA to consult on the amendment of cannabidiol (CBD), potentially removing it from a Schedule 4 listing and adding it as a new entry as a Schedule 3 listing.
If the amendment is approved, then CBD will be accessible without a medical prescription from a pharmacy.
The decision will be made public next month, after which a following public consultation period will commence. The final decision to allow CBD to become available in pharmacies is due to be made on 25th November 2020.
The TGA approval numbers appear to be another step forward on the road towards legalisation. National approval levels are at an all time high with 41% of Australia approving legalisation. Meanwhile, the ACT allows its residents to possess up to 50grams of cannabis and cultivate up to two plants.
The coming months mark several more milestones for the global cannabis industry. New Zealand's referendum is occurring in September 2020, meanwhile the United Nations (UN) will vote on the global re-scheduling of cannabis in multiple categories; one of which includes the removal of CBD from the schedule entirely.
If the TGA approvals for medical cannabis continue in an upward trajectory, then the nations confidence in the product is, no doubt, increasing with it.
The cogs are turning and the future is looking brighter than ever.
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