Experts claim it is only a matter of time before it becomes available as an over the counter purchase, but first, a few things need to happen.
In the two years since medicinal cannabis was legalised in Australia, 1059 patients have received approval for treatment, and while it does seem like a low figure, Australia is finally catching up to the rest of the world, where in some countries it has been legal for decades.
Bloomberg predicts that by 2028, the vast majority of European countries will legalise medical cannabis programs and recreational cannabis, valued at $A182 billion.
Pharmacist and owner of Health House International Paul Mavor, who brought the first shipment of medicinal cannabis to Australia earlier this year, said patient numbers were above where other countries had been at the same time.
“In the first year of introducing it, Canada, which has a slightly bigger population to us, only had 150 patients, Australia had 300. Canada is now up 300,000 medical patients since legalising it 18 years ago and now they’re just about to go legal for recreational (adult use) in a few months.”
Mr Mavor said before becoming legal for recreational use in Australia “it is important we get the medical system right first”.
Cannabis comes in many forms such as smokeables and also edibles.
Most medical forms come in concentrated forms such as capsules, tablets, sublingual sprays and topicals.
OVER THE COUNTER
Currently, nine US states have legalised cannabis and Spain and Uruguay have done the same. Canada announced reforms recently that will legalise cannabis use and New Zealand is set to put the issue to a referendum.
On April 16, Greens leader Richard Di Natale announced the Greens plan to legalise cannabis for adult use in Australia, as recreational use is still illegal across the country. They’ve proposed an “Australian Cannabis Agency” (ACA), which would allow experts, regulators and state and territory governments to issue licenses to produce and sell the drug, monitor and enforce those licences and conduct ongoing reviews.
At the Future of Cannabis seminar at Advertising Week APAC in Sydney on Wednesday, Sharlene Mavor, medical scientist and director of Medical Cannabis Research Australia told news.com.au that she anticipates recreational cannabis to become available in about five to 10 years time, once medicinal cannabis becomes fully implemented in Australia.
“We need to have doctors on board first who see it as a legitimate pharmaceutical product before we legalise it for adult use,” she said.
“Otherwise we will just become muddied and doctors will lose respect for the product, but in itself I do believe cannabis is safe and low on the addiction scale — coffee is more addictive.”
She anticipates a timescale similar to Canada.
“Canada legalised it recreationally once authorities realised the sky didn’t fall in and there were no major social issues.”
Mr Mavor said from a harm minimisation point of view, “there’s a very good argument to legalise it recreationally,” however he is not lobbying for it to happen.
“That way patients who are going to use it anyway are getting safe cannabis. It’s impossible to overdose unless you eat a tonne of it. I personally don’t have a problem with it. If it’s controlled and tested it could be a good thing for our economy.”
The seminar revealed that 35 per cent of Australians support the legalisation of adult use cannabis while a whopping 91 per cent supported medicinal.