Federal health minister Greg Hunt and New South Wales minister for health Brad Hazzard announced on Friday that access to medicinal cannabis in NSW would be simplified into a single application process "in the coming weeks".
Patients and doctors will no longer have to go through both the Commonwealth and NSW Health to seek approval, with the state now relying on a single clinical assessment by the Therapeutic Good Association (TGA).
Hazzard said the state was committed to supporting doctors who wanted to prescribe medical cannabis, while Hunt urged Australia's other states and territories to follow NSW's approach.
Hunt said the new application process will mean doctors wanting to prescribe cannabis medicines will "typically get approval within 36 hours".
Lucy Haslam, the leading force in the medicinal cannabis movement in NSW, said it was time to give credit where it was due, but told BuzzFeed News it was now up to the TGA to ensure the new process is as quick as possible.
"It will be interesting to see where this goes," she said, "but it's a step in the right direction."
Elsewhere, users from within the medicinal cannabis community reacted with concern that – while gaining access to the drug could well be easier now – the price was still prohibitively expensive.
One user who makes their own cannabis oil said it would cost them $20 to create the same amount of product that is, at the very least, $700 through legal means.
Brad Esposito is a news reporter for BuzzFeed and is based in Sydney, Australia.
Contact Brad Esposito at email@example.com.
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