Coast-grown medical marijuana gets release date
SUNSHINE Coast-grown medicial marijuana could hit pharmacy shelves nation-wide as soon as September this year.
Medifarm - the first Australian company to be licensed to cultivate and manufacture medical marijuana - is waiting on mother stock to arrive from overseas destinations, so the pioneers can produce the product as quickly as possible.
At its secret Coast location, Medifarm will produce the product from seed to oil - a process which typically has a seven to eight-week timeframe.
Patients will be prescribed varying doses for their medical ailments from approved doctors, and will be able to pick up their prescription from a pharmacy.
Director Adam Benjamin told the Daily that sourcing the plants from other successful countries would ensure the strains grown here, were the most effective for patients with a vast array of ailments.
"Global pioneers have developed particular breeds that equate for particular medical conditions in patients," he said.
"The average person summarises medical cannabis into one bucket, but it's obviously not that simple.
"We're currently waiting for plants to arrive in Australia and we've been working with licensing authorities to ensure we're doing this right."
Medifarm has an exclusive partnership with Israeli-based Tikun Olam, which pioneered world production 12 years ago.
Public perception of medical marijuana has altered significantly in the past decade, and Mr Benjamin said most people were open to the conversation.
He recently spoke to the Rotary Club of Caloundra, where members were receptive and interested in the use of the plant as a medicine.
"What I really like is that it's a black-and-white concept," the director said.
"Some understand it as a medicine and it's quite easy to flick the switch when you educate people who assume patients just smoke the plant and get high."
The Coast business has worked closely with medical workers to educate them on the benefits and proper use of the product, and will hold a symposium on July 6 for interested regional doctors.
Mr Benjamin also emphasised the importance of keeping the business self-sustainable, and catering to locals first.
"When it comes to patients, we want to be able to treat Australian patients first," he said.
"We are a local company who will deliver medicine to local Australians."
The director was inspired to pioneer this work in Australia after the loss of a family friend, Sam Martin, to cancer in 2015.
Sam's parents made the decision to treat him with medical marijuana, and in Sam's final days, Mr Benjamin said there had been a noticeable improvement in the patient's quality of life.
While he acknowledged there were instances where desperate patients did not have the time to wait, he said Medifarm chose to work with authorities rather than against them.
"We have taken a position where we will play inside rules," he said.
He believed that, given the opportunity, many patients who have sourced treatment on the black market would turn to a regulated medicine when it became available to the public.