The Access to Medicinal Cannabis Act 2016 passed the Victorian Parliament on 12 April 2016, enabling access to medicinal cannabis to defined groups of patients.
Children with severe intractable epilepsy will be the first group to access medicinal cannabis products as part of the Victorian scheme in 2017.
This is a significant and complex reform. To make sure we get the framework right, it will take time to ensure all the key elements are in place.
Frequently asked questions
The Victorian scheme
The Office of Medicinal Cannabis has been established within the Department of Health and Human Services and is responsible for establishing the Victorian medicinal cannabis framework. The office will work closely with the medical profession as well as patients and families as the scheme is implemented.
The Independent Medical Advisory Committee, led by Professor James Angus AO as Chairperson, provides advice to the Victorian Government on the types of medicinal cannabis products that should be available to Victorian patients, and the expansion of eligibility to include other patient groups. The Committee includes a range of specialist physicians in neurology, cancer and pain management as well as other experts in pharmacology, HIV/AIDS, medical research, medical ethics, drug safety, nursing and a consumer representative.
Access to lawful, quality assured products
Research into the medicinal benefits of components of cannabis has been ongoing for some time. This scheme recognises the potential therapeutic benefits for a number of medical conditions and seeks to make it accessible to those in need.
Recreational use of cannabis will remain illegal and nothing in this scheme changes that status.
A ‘black market’ in cannabis currently exists, with cannabis supplied illegally to individuals who seek to buy it for the purpose of trying to treat medical conditions. These sorts of illicit products may contain unknown ingredients and pose risks to patients. The Victorian scheme seeks to end that market by providing access to lawful, quality assured medicinal cannabis at an affordable price.
Unlike any black market product, medicinal cannabis supplied under the Victorian scheme will be of known quality and composition, and supplied to patients in the context of their overall health plan under the supervision of their doctor.
The Victorian medicinal cannabis framework is not just about making medicinal cannabis legal for eligible patients. It is also about the medicinal cannabis products being produced to a consistent high quality and encouraging innovation, growth and employment opportunities in Victoria. The Victorian Government is leading the way by growing and manufacturing medicinal cannabis products for use in the Victorian access scheme, pending the development of industry based manufacturing in Victoria.
In the future, licences for manufacturing medicinal cannabis products, both for medical and research purposes, will be issued in Victoria. This will ensure that there is a consistent supply of locally manufactured products for Victorian patients to access. This page will be updated once applications for licences are able to be accepted.