Help us ODC – (Office of Drug Control) – Licensing During the Australia War on THC –
15 July 2015
UPDATE: 16 July 2016
As I speak to others that have attended around the country I am adding on a bit here at the top in 2 new sections –
- Questions I Forgot To Ask or Forgot to Mention That were Asked
One question asked was about driving as the ODC is meeting with law enforcement. Again the pretense is there until the question is asked, “How do the RBT tests that test for THC and not impairment.
Bill Turner Weed-Czar: First you have to abide by the state laws on RBT, second this might not be an issue if there is no THC. Exactly. The first part of the question is important as RBT test for the presence of THC not impairment, secondly with THC being illegal in all aspects of this so far it is not certain if a high CBD and 1% THC would register or not, as being impaired is not the issue.
- Now What ?
A lot may come down to what products and what demand license seekers ask for. The ODC is only responsible for putting in a framework, based on what is currently legal, however they claim should natural THC products (above 2% THC be legal the framework would support that) Answers were awkard as he did not want to get drawn anymore by the, “Well there is no THC so isn’t this really about medical hemp and not medical Cannabis”.
As a Government Agency, the outcome of the ODC tour is what I like to refer to as burying us in the “Rumsfeld Inspired Variables”
There are things we now know, that we did not know and are now public. There are things we now know we do not know, and some of those are known to the ODC but not yet shared. There are things the ODC do not know so we are told they do not know. Finally, there are things we know that the ODC know, but they choose not to discuss (e.g per below on demand, natural Cannabis etc).
The ODC leads on, the registering of unregistered products, and work to the department of health working to the line management with the TGA (Therapeutic Goods Administration) under Professor John Skerritt and Susan Ley Health Minister.
Thinking about the ODC, as I write this my mind is “miss-hearing” Joan Jett’s 1981 “Bad Reputation” lyrics, with “Where’re just dealing with a bad situation”.
In my opinion the ODC has a job to do;
Reinventing the wheel on Medical Cannabis, licensing and leaving “round” off the table.
The ODC Australia Wide Plane Trip Destinations– Where
Brisbane – Monday 11 July, 1.30pm at Capri by Fraser / Sydney – Tuesday 12 July, 1.30pm at Radisson Hotel and Suites Sydney / Hobart – Wednesday 13 July, 1.30pm at Hotel Grand Chancellor Hobart / Melbourne – Thursday 14 July, 1.30pm at Mantra on Russell
Adelaide – Friday 15 July, 1.30pm at Adina Apartment Hotel / Perth – Wednesday 20 July, 1.30pm at Mercure Perth
- No exports, only for now domestic use for now. – exports might follow in the future it is in the framework
- The framework is 100% for medicinal Cannabis with no THC so far (also addressed in demand below) and made to prevent it working for or ever evolving into a recreational model ODC Weed-Czar Bill Turner was asked,
LW: “When we legalised Medical Cannabis in California in 1996 (over 20 years ago), the government foresaw the possibility medical might one day evolve into also including recreational, so put in a complementary framework, that would at least allow for that. How does your model compare to that?
Bill Turner: <perhaps jokingly> said (and I might be slightly paraphrasing) when asked on this – “”One of the things that keeps me awake at night is that and I might be collecting taxes in a recreational model, this is the wrong forum for that sort of discussion and nothing in this framework allows for that, nothing””.
Comment: It is the largest concern they have, part of the reason why they have tried to design it that way. This is contrary to the rest of the world where they foresee, are achieving at least the possibility of an evolution from medical to recreational, and out of common sense created models that allowed for this. Australia has chosen to avoid common sense in lieu of continuing the losing war against THC.
The model is based on some aspects of the Canada model (Comment: perhaps one of the worst models in the world today as we are seeing the impacts of it in the media).
- The model is broken up into Cultivators and Manufacturers.
- Patient Access is a Focus so very little is discussed about it (cynical but true)
- All the licenses and permits work around the Narcotic Act of 1967 that was put in place to align Australia with the Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs of 1961
- A lot of the model depends on determining, fulfilling and not exceeding demand.
- Demand can only be based of course on” what is legal to provide”. If they only offer products to unicorns, demand is going to be less than if they offer to sick people and let doctors determine the ailments, based on other working models. In reality the ailments and the demographics will be very limited, so demand is viewed as VERY low.
Bill Turner said, “The reports that we are limiting growers/cultivators, or manufacture numbers is 100% incorrect”. However, he said multiple times estimations on demand are very low. But did not quite go on to say that it is because they are greatly limiting who can get it and for what ailments.
Why Cannabis is a bigger concern than opium to the ODC and Government?
Mr Turner has mentioned a few times that diversion (losing product) is a bigger concern with Cannabis than opium as you can take cannabis and smoke it, steal it etc easier and to a larger audience but the process for making opium into something you would consume is secondary / more difficult. More so than that there have been very few deaths reported in the media out of the Tasmania opium fields, and theft of poppies is supposed to be reported proactively and why local “thieves” are reported to be stealing plants less obvious and even leaving farmers cash for stolen plants per the newspaper story, so Cannabis would be on another level. This is why they also favor indoor vs outdoor grows, but not sure how to manage it on the security side.
Note: So I do not over paraphrase more to the background to this update, I defer to the ODC email on where the background info is for this
It will be published on ComLaw at the following address: https://www.comlaw.gov.au/Series/C1967A00053 . Note Subject to requirements, access to medicinal cannabis products is available through existing mechanisms such as the Special Access Scheme: https://www.tga.gov.au/form/special-access-scheme
Subject to approval under the Special Access Scheme or Authorised Prescriber, your Doctor may apply on your behalf to import medicinal cannabis products. Details of the import process may be found here: http://www.tga.gov.au/importing-narcotic-psychotropic-and-precursor-substances-special-access-scheme-only
Office of Drug Control
Australian Government Department of Health
Note: Licenses can only be legally issued for what is legal. Sounds simple, this was not discussed much. They said nothing is off the table for licensing but do not say that only full spectrum Cannabis with above 2% THC is available via an R&D license and all those are on an even closer case by case basis.
I recall the VLRC (Victoria Law Review Commission) a perhaps very ethical group assigned to essentially validate what the Victorian Government had told them to do and help create a scheme of offering Medical Cannabis to their selected few deserving but extremely low numbers and preferably with no THC. In the case of the VLRC they went beyond the remit and made other suggestions that were quickly discarded. The number one use of medicinal Cannabis globally is pain relief, the item missing off all Cannabis trials and product focusing is pain relief with natural Cannabis with THC. Currently states have issued licenses for growing products like hemp, but not Cannabis. Within the new scope of the new Weed-Czar at the ODC Bill Turner will oversee all licensing. Simply put the ODC is following aspects of the messed up some aspects of the current Canada model, that meets the Australian model of being controlled by the government, Here, there are there are Cultivators, and Manufacturers.
It is quite simple in concept for the ODC, manufacturers/ cultivators assess the demand cultivators must work with manufacturers and vice versa unless they are the same.
Based on the ODC rules to stay in line with UN prohibition, demand is an important thing to quantify. This is the entire basis of licensing and permits of which there are a plenty. Bill Turner simply put it that no product; GMO, low THC, high CBD, high THC is off the table nor are the ailments that products will be allowed to be addressed, Unless they are illegal. Thus the first hurdle.
In no states is pain management (the number one use of medical Cannabis globally) allowed. In state Victoria it is an exceptional circumstance case and must be approved by a doctor, and with likely more paperwork than they should have to deal with. It is hinted doctors are not encouraged to prescribe or offer medical Cannabis but as a last resort. Keeping in mind they cannot offer something that is illegal either, Catch-22 number 1 of which there is plenty. So if say state Victoria only allows certain ailments to have medical Cannabis and that is 1% of demand yet the other 99% might have consideration then how do you manage demand calculations accurately. I asked Bill Turner that question.
LW: Mr Turner, a big aspect of all of this is managing and determining demand, yet in state Victoria pain relief (the number one use of medical Cannabis globally is only allowed by SAS (special access scheme). How would folks be able to determine demand if the demand is so restricted and unknown specific to the SAS. It was acknowledged as an issue.
Other Maybe Relevant Things
- The ODC sees a large demand for a matchmaking system as growers have not known manufacturers before and visa verse. I saw this first hand with money folks, growers, and manufacturers not know many of each other, and some are further down the path than others.
- Also remember the license were recently controlled 100% by the states.
- There is a separate hemp industry that is also impacted in all of this in that industrial hemp is NOT medical Cannabis and vice versa. This means separate licenses if doing both, different standards and different rules per state.
- License Forms will be available by 30 October and they will start accepting them on 30 October.
- Bill Turner is a nice guy but said if you are planning to apply for a license do not tell me of anything you do or have done that would cause you to fail to get a license. I cannot “un-hear” what you tell me. A true point that for many if they are doing anything illegal they would be hindered in getting a license.
- Type of products offered – GMO is still on the table they have no issue with it, but not pushing or supporting it that is not their job.
- Obtaining Seeds – Legal seeds are another issue, The USA as it is illegal federally cannot or will not issue export permits.
Does the new ODC processes, licenses, and departmnet “evolve” Australia in getting medical cannabis to sick people legally? No, not really, currently there are no legal uses for Cannabis with THC, this means there is no legal demand and no licenses. But this is not the ODC’s job, nor is it their job to tell people the truth on any issues that government policy does not want them to tell us. However they are quick to point out the framework does allow for product with THC in it when it is legal.