The top official overseeing medicinal cannabis in Australia has vowed to continue to ease the administrative burden on industry after conceding the current demands surrounding permit applications are “excessive”.

John Skerritt, who heads the Therapeutic Goods Administration and Office of Drug Control (ODC), said consultation is underway on a simplified process that will demand far less from applicants.

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He also confirmed that a consultation period would start before the end of the year over proposals to require imported products to be GMP compliant.

Skerritt told the PharmOut Medicinal Cannabis Conference that feedback from the industry had suggested the permit process was “overly complex”, a sentiment also shared with Professor John McMillan during his review last year of the Narcotic Drugs Act.

Skerritt appeared to acknowledge that the current process – which requires an inordinate amount of time-consuming, complex and repetitive paperwork – needed reform.

“The excessive caution and high level of prescription of what was required was really a function of the fact that it was a new scheme and lawmakers were very cautious and worried about diversion of medicinal cannabis,” he said.

“Now it’s proposed to simplify the information required in an application for a permit authorising cultivation. Extensive detail of production schemes won’t be required, so you won’t need to show [detail such as] strains, cropping schedules.”

Instead, simpler information will be required that will make it easier to understand and to comply with a permit, he said.