A Tasmanian-linked medicinal cannabis company has welcomed an interim decision proposing pharmacists be allowed to provide low-dose products without a doctor's prescription.
"The proposed amendment for CBD (cannabidiol) products is a major change for Australia and for Australian patients," AusCann chief executive Nick Woolf said.
"AusCann remains committed to supporting an evidentiary approach to medicine classification which provides ease of access for Australian patients while ensuring patients receive medicines that are safe and of the highest quality."
The Therapeutic Goods Administration recently made an interim decision proposing low-dose CBD products be classified to be available to Australian patients in consultation with their pharmacists.
Mr Woolf said AusCann - which has a cannabis resin supply deal with Tasmanian Alkaloids - would continue to work with the TGA "as this moves to a final decision and comes into effect".
Tasmanian Health Minister Sarah Courtney said the state was working with the federal government and other states and territories to encourage development of high-quality, evidence-based clinical guidelines to ensure access to medical cannabis products was safe and effective.
"The Controlled Access Scheme allows Tasmanians with a serious illness which has not responded to conventional therapies access to unregistered medical cannabis products when prescribed by a suitably qualified relevant medical specialist," Ms Courtney said.
"The CAS continues to support the safe and responsible use of unregistered medical cannabis products, informed by evidence and expert clinical advice.
"This is the same process applied to all other unproven medicines access through the public health system in Tasmania."
She said the Tasmanian government was the only government in Australia which subsidised the cost of "highly expensive" unregistered medical cannabis products and made their potential benefits accessible to all Tasmanians, not just those who could afford to pay.
Shadow Health Minister Sarah Lovell said the rescheduling of low dose cannabidiol by the TGA was welcome and overdue.
"Yet, it only allows patients access without prescription to a very low dose of cannabidiol from community pharmacies in Tasmania and all other states and territories," Ms Lovell said.
" ... it is not going to make any difference at all to suffering and vulnerable patients who need a higher therapeutic dose of cannabidiol on a regular basis for complex medical conditions.
"They will still face the same barriers now as they have since the Liberal government's restrictive scheme was introduced in 2017."
She said Ms Courtney should, at the very least, commit to a full review of the Controlled Access Scheme "and consider following the example of her Liberal counterpart in New South Wales in committing to a single application process for all medicinal cannabis products through the TGA, which means doctors are likely to get approval within 36 hours rather than waiting months or years for an outcome".