Paul Mavor, International Director of Health House pictured with one of the first medicinal cannabis deliveries to Australia. Picture: Supplied
AUSTRALIANS in pain and suffering from chronic ailments will get constant access to medicinal cannabis from Wednesday as the first major commercial shipments of the drug have been cleared by customs.
News Corp Australia can exclusively reveal around 2000 units of cannabis oil are now being stored in secure and secret warehouses across the country.
CCTV, security guard patrols and hi-tech safes are among some of the security measures guarding the products, all from Canada.
ASX-listed cannabis company Creso Pharma and West Australian medicinal cannabis
wholesaler Health House received the first inventory of three different types of cannabis oils on Monday evening.
This was followed by a further shipment arriving in Melbourne on Tuesday for medicinal cannabis firm Tilray.
More shipments are expected to arrive in Australia throughout May.
News Corp Australia can also reveal the government has now issued nine licenses for Australian-grown cannabis crops.
Two in Queensland, four in Victoria, one in Western Australia and New South Wales respectively and one in a yet to be-announced location.
Last year the federal parliament passed laws to legalise medicinal cannabis use in Australia for patients with painful and chronic illnesses.
Those include cancer patients, HIV sufferers and people with severe epilepsy, motor neurone disease and multiple sclerosis, among others.
However the rules vary from state to state as to approved conditions and ages.
Patients desperately wanting access to the drug for relief currently require a letter from their GP or an approved prescriber.
Sufferers will now be able to access the drug from their local pharmacy and not be forced to wait months for a product to enter the county via legal means or turn to the black market.
Medicinal cannabis delivered to Australia. Picture: Supplied
Health Minister Greg Hunt said the Turnbull government was taking strong action to help Australians in enormous pain.
“Since our policy was introduced in February, 30 permits have been granted to import medicinal cannabis products from Canada, Switzerland and the Netherlands,” Mr Hunt told News Corp Australia.
“The new importation rules are making medicinal cannabis products more readily accessible to Australian doctors where they believe it can provide a clinical benefit to their patients.”
Brendan Lillywhite, general manager of the Epilepsy Foundation said the importation and immediate access to products would hugely relieve the burden by families with children suffering epilepsy.
“Some families are working at an extreme level of stress. Their child could be suffering up to 100 seizures a day,” Mr Lillywhite said.
“We welcome the fact that governments right across the country and federally are looking seriously at the use of medicinal cannabis and they are fastracking the importation of cannabinoid oil and plants.”
Professor Sanchia Aranda, CEO of the Cancer Council Australia said that it was encouraging to see medicinal cannabis being made more available for those most likely to benefit from its use, including cancer patients.
However, she noted that further research into the effectiveness of cannabis for cancer patients was still required.
“It’s encouraging to see this option being made more easily available to those who need is most and will be welcomed by Australians living with cancer.
“However, it’s important to remember that medicinal cannabis may not be suitable for all cancer patients — we still need more evidence around the potential side effects and further research to better determine how and when it should be used.”
CanniMed is a firm that has just supplied medicinal cannabis to Australia. Picture: Supplied
David Russell, chief operating officer of Creso Pharma said the importation of commercial cannabis products into Australia was a “groundbreaking moment for patients and the medical industry in Australia”.
“This is particularly important given the unmet but often immediate need to access a timely medicinal cannabis supply across Australia.”
Opposition health spokeswoman Catherine King said more needed to be done to ensure timely access to medicinal cannabis across Australia.
“We are concerned that the government has done little to ensure a consistent supply of regulated product, or to drive consistency across states on the legal treatment of people currently accessing medicinal cannabis,” she said.
“But supply is only one part — the Government must ensure that the TGA is efficiently processing applications to access medicinal cannabis, and working with medical providers to improve awareness.”