REFORMS to laws governing the sale of medicinal cannabis, which will soon enable over-the-counter purchases of some products, have been welcomed by a Jewish medicinal cannabis entrepreneur, who has signed a deal with a major pharmaceutical chain.
The agreement between Tommy Huppert’s firm Cannatrek and Jewish-owned Chemist Warehouse (CW) has been hailed as an important step in treating conditions such as inflammation and anxiety.
Huppert is an Australian expert on Israeli initiatives in developing medicinal cannabis, and presented to a Hadassah Australia medical conference in Jerusalem four years ago.
Importantly cannabidiol (CBD), the medicinal cannabis soon to become available over the counter, does not contain the psychoactive agent – which provides a “high” – found in some forms of cannabis.
Huppert explained that both tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and CBD cannabis products have been available with a doctor’s prescription since Australia legalised medicinal cannabis in 2016.
Under the agreement, Cannatrek will work with CW to develop and bring new products to market, including CBD.
The changes to Australian law last month involve modifying the scheduling of medicines overseen by the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA), so that CBD, which is presently only available with a prescription, will become an over-the-counter purchase as “pharmacist-only medicine”.
Huppert told The AJN that CBD will become available over the counter as soon as the TGA specifically approves the product as a Schedule 3 medicine, but that could be at least 12 months away.
Hailing the CW deal, the Cannatrek CEO said, “The ultimate winner will be Australian consumers, who will get access to high-quality medicinal cannabis products via a visit to Australia’s largest pharmacy chain.”
He added, “We will continue to run education programs in Australia together with our partners including Chemist Warehouse. This is all about raising the comfort factor among doctors and specialists in Australia, to make medicinal cannabis more mainstream and available to patients.”
He said the cannabis will be sourced from plants grown at his company’s Brisbane facility, and supply will later be boosted with a proposed new facility in Shepparton, Victoria.
Noting that “low-dose cannabidiol is used to address conditions such as stress, pain, anxiety and insomnia”, CW chair and co-founder Jack Gance said he was “delighted that the TGA has agreed to allow CBD to be sold over the counter in a controlled environment via pharmacies”.
He added, “Unfortunately, CBD’s reputation has been tarnished over the years. Importantly, CBD has medical properties without the level of psychoactive properties of tetrahydrocannabinol.” Both partners agreed that while research into the efficacy of medicinal cannabis for certain treatments is increasing, it is currently in its early days.
They urged patients always to talk to a health professional for advice before making any decisions about their treatment options.