Tas Alks considers expanding medicinal cannabis project for export

INTERNATIONAL OPPORTUNITIES: Tasmanian Alkaloids will review scope of medicinal cannabis project with AusCann under changes to federal export laws. Picture: Phillip Biggs
INTERNATIONAL OPPORTUNITIES: Tasmanian Alkaloids will review scope of medicinal cannabis project with AusCann under changes to federal export laws. Picture: Phillip Biggs

Tasmania’s medicinal cannabis market could grow under the federal government plan to allow export of such products.

Medicinal cannabis producer Tasmanian Alkaloids, and its distribution partner AusCann, will now review the partnership announced in May to explore export access.

Health minister Greg Hunt announced the export plan on Thursday morning, and said it would help develop the medicinal cannabis sector and secure long-term supplies for Australian patients.

Tasmanian Alkaloids chief executive Doug Blackaby said the organisation had responded during the government’s consultation on medicinal cannabis exports last year.

“It’s been something we’ve been advocating for quite some time,” he said.

“We will sit down with AusCann and discuss our project plan now we can export.

“It means we can collectively build a business model that is not just local, but can also include other countries. It’s certainly a step in the right direction,” Mr Blackaby said.

Tasmanian Alkaloids received its third and final federal licence to produce medicinal cannabis just before Christmas and is now waiting for the Tasmanian licence.

“We hope to be producing [medicinal cannabis] by Q4 2018 or early Q1 2019,” Mr Blackaby said.

AusCann managing director Elaine Darby said she was “delighted” with the government’s export plan, which would help Australian and international patients.

“For AusCann, this means we will be able to begin exporting late to early next year. Through our partnership with Tasmanian Alkaloids, we now have the only established facility, as well as all  the requisite licenses, to grow and manufacture cannabinoid medicines,” Ms Darby said. 

“This will really strengthen the industry, enabling it to supply Australian patients – in addition to international patients – with high quality, cost-effective cannabinoid medicines,” she said.

The Australian medicinal cannabis industry can now scale up its operations, which makes it easier to produce more cost-effective chronic pain relief products, Ms Darby said.

Tasmanian Farmers and Graziers Association chief executive Peter Skillern said he watched developments on medicinal cannabis with interest.

“The TFGA looks forward to ascertaining the potential positive impact that such a licence may have on the agricultural sector in Tasmania,” he said.

“We are aware that medicinal cannabis is a small crop, but it is a niche market.”

Regulations preventing medicinal cannabis exports will change once parliament resumes in February.