Jobs boom as ‘life-changing’ drug given the green light
Australia's fledgling cannabis industry is gearing up for a green rush, after the recent reclassification of a little-known but "life-changing" substance.
CBD oil, derived from cannabis buds, was last week rescheduled by the Therapeutic Goods Administration from class four to three, meaning low-dose CBD products that have been run through clinical trials will be sold over-the-counter as soon as late 2021.
Now industries from marijuana growers and wholesalers to packaging companies and pharmacies are anticipating a jobs boom, with the product likely to surge in popularity in a similar way to its boom overseas.
CBD oil, which has surpassed vitamin C supplements in popularity in the UK, can be used for pain relief, as an anti-inflammatory, and for depression and other comorbidities.
Cannabis Doctors Australia director Dr Ben Jansen said the rescheduling was an exciting time for patients.
"It's exciting that we're going to be able to get CBD to patients who otherwise would find more barriers to get it," Dr Jansen said.
He said the drug, which does not give users a high, was effective for about half of the patients who trialled it in decreasing pain and the need for addictive pain relievers like opioids.
"A quarter of all of our patients will record that it's life-changing," Dr Jansen said.
CBD, short for cannabidiol, was extracted from marijuana plants and separated from THC, the compound which gives users a high.
Dr Jansen said the rescheduling would allow customers to purchase a month's worth of CBD oil in dosages below 150mg over the counter.
Burleigh Heads Cannabis and CANVIEW founder Ryan Tattle said demand for Australian-grown CBD oil had grown "exponentially" in the space of just several months.
"We started literally around the kitchen table (in 2016), and now we've gone over our 50th employee," Mr Tattle said.
"In the last six months, the company has grown seven times."
"We went from shipping out around three to four hundred products a month, and now we're doing 25,000 products a quarter."
Mr Tattle's two companies distribute CBD oil to at least 30 per cent of Australia's pharmacies.
He said doctors in particular had become more accepting of CBD Oil and other medicinal uses of marijuana in recent years.
The announcement that CBD Oil had been rescheduled earlier this month led to Mr Tattle's phone "running hot," and he said he was anticipating a green rush.
"It enables the barrier to entry, it reduces the stigma and it allows them to carry on their treatment further with a doctor if it suits."
He said CBD Oil was already on track to get 330,000 patients by 2025 on schedule four, and would now most likely see "a lot higher" take up.
Brisbane-based grower and distributor MedCan is expected to also grow from just two staff in 2016 to over 50 by the end of 2021.
Founder Craig Cochran said the industry's growth would have a flow on effect, creating jobs in packaging and distribution.
"Once we start to build the industry in Australia, what you'll find is all the support industries will pop up as well," Mr Cochran said.
He said his company was "across the entire supply chain," from growing cannabis plants at a top-secret hydroponics facility in Greater Brisbane to distributing CBD and THC to customers.
But Mr Cochran said many schedule three CBD oil products wouldn't appear on shelves immediately despite the new relaxation of restrictions, as many products would face clinical trials which could take anywhere between 12 and 36 months.
Originally published as Jobs boom as 'life-changing' drug given the green light