The Narcotic Drugs Amendment (Medicinal Cannabis) Bill 2021 passed through the Senate yesterday and will now be presented to the Governor-General for assent.
The changes contained in the bill follow the recommendations of John McMillan AO in his review of the Narcotic Drugs Act published in September 2019.
It replaces the current suite of licences required for cultivation, production, manufacture and research with a single medicinal cannabis licence and makes the majority of licences perpetual.
It also shifts some information requirements from the initial licence stage to the permit stage and introduces a statement of purpose to the Narcotic Drugs Act clarifying that it is designed to “make medicinal cannabis products available for therapeutic purposes”.
Introducing the bill for its second reading, minister for trade, tourism and investment Dan Tehan said: “The department has been in lock step with industry on these reforms. In addition to consultation by Professor McMillan, the department has sought feedback through public consultation papers, conducted a number of industry forums… and most recently held an industry information session on the measures in the bill.
“These changes maintain the careful balance the act strikes between facilitating cultivation, production and manufacture of a cannabis drug, [and] implementing Australia’s obligations under the Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs to safeguard against illegal practices, to provide for safe and sustainable pathways for patient access to medicinal cannabis therapies.”