Australian government considers over-the-counter access to medicinal cannabis in 2021

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Medicinal cannabis could be purchased over the counter in Australian pharmacies from next year.

The Australian Department of Health's Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) announced they intend to make cannabidiol (CBD) medicines available without a prescription.

The interim decision was released in a report on Wednesday with a suggested implementation date of June 2021.

Cannabidiol is one of the main ingredients in cannabis and is used for medicinal purposes. 

In Australia, it is currently listed as a "prescription only medicine".

The proposed changes would save Australians a trip to the doctor and they would now be able to access cannabidiol after consulting a pharmacist.

But the TGA also said there would be several limitations on cannabidiol, including a maximum daily dose of 60mg and a restriction of a 30-day supply. 

It would also only be available for adults at least 18 years old, and would be packed in a blister, strip or container fitted with a child-resistant closure.

Josh Fegan, the CEO of Althea - a licensed producer, supplier and exporter of pharmaceutical-grade medicinal cannabis- said it was one of the biggest developments in the industry to date.

"The interim decision reflects the significant shift in community and government attitudes towards medicinal cannabis since it was legalised in Australia in late 2016, which has seen it move from a fringe alternative towards an accepted mainstream option," Fegan said.

"We are excited by the TGA's interim decision to down schedule CBD products and see this development as a big step forward for prescription cannabis products already available in Australia."

Dr Mark Hardy, from Cannabis Access Clinics, told 7 News there was an "overall stigmatisation of medicinal cannabis" and the government had made it difficult for patients to access cannabidiol. 

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