IN what could be a huge boost for Australian medicinal cannabis producers, the Federal Government has announced it will permit the export of medicinal cannabis products internationally.
Until this week, medicinal cannabis products grown and produced in Australia were not permitted to be traded internationally.
This move from the Federal Government will see Australian products take to the global stage.
Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt has said that despite the new trading regulations, the Government's top priority is still Australian patients.
"Our top priority is to ensure a safe quality supply of medicinal cannabis for Australian patients," says Hunt.
By opening producers up to the international market, Hunt says the domestic market will grow in turn.
"This decision will help both the domestic supply and Australian producers by strengthening the opportunities for domestic manufacturers," says Hunt.
"We are making these changes because the expanding domestic medicinal cannabis products industry is facing increasing competition from imports, and allowing the export of medicinal cannabis products will help the developing domestic market to grow further."
Hunt says the export permission is not unconditional, with a caveat for exporters that any license authorising export that medicinal cannabis products be made available, when and if required, to Australian patients first.
Currently, for patients wanting to access medicinal cannabis products, their doctor must apply under the Therapeutic Goods Administration's Special Access Scheme Category or via an "Authorised Prescriber".
The move from the Federal Government was criticised by Australian Greens leader, Senator Richard Di Natale, as not fixing the "real problem" of access to the product in Australia.
"The red tape, lack of investment in doctor education and duplication of regulation with the states means patients still wait months for access. This announcement will do nothing to fix the real problem," says Di Natale.
The announcement was welcomed enthusiastically by investors and saw shares in medicinal marijuana producers soar.
Distributor and developer Bod Australia (ASX: BDA) which recently signed a deal with Singapore-listed iX Biopharma to supply a range of medicinal cannabis extracts soared 17 cents, 39.5 per cent to 60 cents. Cann Group (ASX: CAN) lifted $1.02, or 35.4 per cent to $3.90 and The Hydroponics Company (ASX: THC) gained 22 cents, or 30.8 per cent to 92.5 cents.
Queensland Bauxite (ASX: QBL) is currently in a trading halt pending an announcement of a joint venture deal by its subsidiary Medical Cannabis Ltd with a Canadian cannabis company.
Another major medicinal cannabis producer, Creso Pharma (ASX: CPH) is trading up by 5 per cent to $1.26 per share at 11.30am AEDT. Creso Pharma CEO Miri Halperin Wernli welcomed the decision of the Federal Government.
"This move by the Australian Government not only confirms what we have been doing for the past 18 months, but it's a major step forward to fast track the ability to get medicinal cannabis into the hands of patients who need it," says Wernli.
"This will place Australia in a unique role as other nations scramble to find safe and legal suppliers of medicinal cannabis."
AusCann (ASX: AC8) has similarly seen its prices soar currently up by 35.3 per cent to $1.70 per share at 11:30am AEDT. Managing Director of AusCann Elaine Darby says the decision is a win for the whole industry.
"This is a win for the Australian Cannabis industry and Australian patients as it allows us to produce cost effective products at scale," says Darby.
Following the announcement, shares in Algae.Tec (ASX: AEB), who produces algae-based nutraceuticals and medicinal cannabis products, saw its share price almost double up 42 per cent to $0.064 cents per share.
Shares in MGC Pharma (ASX: MXC) rose by 12 per cent to $0.11 per share today. The company says the export permission allows for the company to continue expanding.
"The decision is expected to strengthen commercial opportunities for domestic producers and means that MXC will now intensify its focus and fast track plans on developing a pharmaceutical grade medicinal cannabis cultivation and manufacturing strategy in Australia, to complement its existing operations in Europe," says MGC Pharma in an announcement to the ASX.
MMJ Phytotech Limited (ASX: MMJ) also saw a significant boost from the announcement, and is currently trading at $0.58 per share up by 8.49 per cent at 11.30am AEDT.
Business News Australia
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