The government has announced plans to spend $1.8 million over the next three years on a new national medical cannabis fund that will be overseen by a commission and overseen by MPs.
The federal government has decided to provide the funds to fund research in the form of medical cannabis, which is currently controlled by a handful of state-licensed growers, as well as independent producers, as part of the $9.8 billion national health and medical cannabis plan.
The National Medical Cannabis Council (NMCC) was set up in the wake of the federal government’s announcement of a national medical marijuana scheme, which will see a federal-supervised system for the distribution of the drug, and states can choose to operate their own medical supply chains.
The NMCC has already been involved in funding research on medical cannabis and has also been the target of criticism from some Conservative MPs.
However, after the recent federal election, the NMCC was left in limbo and has now been forced to cancel its meeting with the Government, which was due to take place at Parliament House in Canberra on Friday.
Ahead of the meeting, Liberal Senator Scott Ludlam said the fund would not only be funded by the Government but would also be a “bundled benefit” for the NMCA.
“This is a bundle of $1,000 per cannabis patient that will go to a state-run research organisation, and a $2,000 rebate to the state and territories for every person in their community who is approved to grow medical cannabis,” Senator Ludlam told ABC Radio.
“If you want to be a state regulator, you can fund it and it will go into the national fund.
It’s a great benefit for the public.”
However, Senator Ludham added that it was not clear what the funding would cover, and how much it would be used for.
The announcement has prompted questions over whether the Government will fund research and the NMFC could be in a position to raise additional funds from its own members.
“What this means is the federal Government can no longer say they’re funding the research but the state will have to go out and make the decisions,” Senator Lindsay Tanner, who is also a member of the NMBC, told the ABC.
“The state has the responsibility for the research.
The state will be responsible for making the decision whether to go ahead with the research or not.”
The federal Liberal Party has criticised the Government for the move, calling it a “disgrace” that could lead to “unprecedented corruption” in the medical cannabis industry.
However the Government has said the move is necessary to protect the public interest and protect the NMDA, which has been “rebranded” under the new scheme.
The Department of Health (DoH) said the money would be available to states to operate cannabis production and distribution systems.
“Medical cannabis will be used in the same way as other medicinal products, including medicines, and can be dispensed to patients through a variety of modes including mail order, through pharmacies, through a pharmacy card or through an approved cannabis supplier,” a spokesperson for the Department of Social Services said.
“State and territory governments will also be responsible in setting up medical supply systems for patients, and participating in the national scheme for the supply of medical marijuana.”
However the Health Minister, Peter Dutton, told ABC radio he was “not sure” the Government had the power to fund the NMC and that he did not know how much the fund was going to be worth.
“We don’t know how it’s going to pay for itself, I’m not sure I’m clear about that,” he said.
The spokesperson said the Minister would make a decision on the funding within a week.
“That’s what we’ve got to do,” Senator Tanner said.
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