According to Levin Health, research into medicinal cannabis has uncovered a clear movement away from illicit use to legal use. People using cannabis for health reasons prefer the layer of safety that comes with medically prescribed treatments. However, the Cannabis as a Medicine (CAMS20) survey found that 47% of medicinal cannabis users think it's too expensive.
Levin Health explains that the price depends on factors like the patient's condition, any other medication the patient may be taking in addition to medicinal cannabis, and the type of product being prescribed. Generally, patients can expect to pay between $50 and $100 per week, with the average weekly cost sitting at $79.
Since medicinal cannabis is not currently subsidized by the Commonwealth Government through the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS), Levin Health explains that the entire cost has to come from the patient's pocket.
The good news is that changes to the industry are on the horizon, says Levin Health. Until now, the price of medicinal cannabis in Melbourne and Australia-wide has been high because 95% of products are imported from overseas countries, including Canada and the United States.
Despite Australia being the world's second-largest medical cannabis market, Australian wages and energy prices make local production difficult. International suppliers are able to supply Australians at less than half the price.
However, that model is being turned on its head. Australia is in the midst of year-on-year growth in locally cultivated and manufactured medicinal cannabis products. As of May 2022, 66 cultivation licenses and 57 manufacturing licenses had been awarded in Australia, and now there are around 1300 estimated employees in the industry, according to an Australian medicinal cannabis industry report.
With domestic cultivation on the rise, imports are expected to be pushed to the side, making way for a 50/50 split between imported and locally-grown or manufactured products.
The savings picked up from turning away from overseas goods are already being passed onto Australian patients. The average price per mg dropped 12% between March and September 2021, with the downward price trend expected to continue.
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