This week marks a major marijuana milestone for the Australian state of Victoria. Last year, it became the first region in the country to legalize medical cannabis use, and now that system is starting to bloom. Early on Tuesday, the Andrews Government announced that they had successfully harvested Australia’s first-ever medical cannabis crop.
Sowed in a secret government grow facility back in April 2016, this marijuana plant is being tested and prepped for the country’s first patients. This particular plant will be reserved for children suffering from severe epilepsy, and will be available for treatment starting this year.
The Office of Drug Control in Canberra has also allotted the first Federal Government license for cannabis cultivation and research to the Melbourne medical marijuana company Cann Group. Their early entrance into Australia’s newfound medical marijuana program will put the firm in prime position to pioneer the budding market.
Currently, the company’s research and development site is operating under an authority for “Low-THC Cannabis”, enabling them to grow cannabis for analysis and non-therapeutic purposes. According to Cann Group chairman Allan McCallum, they hope that this recently granted permit will allow them to expand their cultivation operation into manufacturing and selling across the country.
“The licence allows us to apply for a permit to progress our research and development programs, which are particularly focused on the breeding, cultivation, extraction and characterisation of cannabinoids,” McMallum said to the Herald Sun.“It will also mean we can further discussions we have under way with a number of leading Australian research and technology organisations to access additional expertise and resources.”
In order to optimize their medical cannabis program, the Victorian government has formed the Australian Advisory Council on the Medicinal Use of Cannabis. This panel will provide the Health Department with advice on how to properly implement the medical program. The team of medical experts will also help write the medical prescription guidelines and present research evidence to the government.
While the Land Down Under is certainly creating a lot of hoopla about harvesting just one plant, the milestone signifies something much bigger than that. With the first round of medical cannabis set to be distributed to children with epilepsy, the state of Victoria is ushering in an exciting new era for Australia, one that will continue flourishing as time marches on.