Every morning, a 20-year-old from the Gold Coast drops a small dose of Cannabis oil under his tongue with a glass pipette. He suffers from Crohn’s Disease, an inflammation of the bowel making food digestion quite painful for him.
Having tried various medications over the years with limited success, a friend suggested to him to give medical Cannabis a try. After availing a CBD oil prescription from his doctor, he found that the drug worked wonders for his condition, with one drawback.
Like many who were deemed eligible and granted approval and permit by the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA)’s Special Access Scheme (SAS), he found out that he’d be paying around $600 a month for his much-needed medical Cannabis.
Meanwhile, a mother in Melbourne relies on Cannabis to relieve chronic pain that she acquired from a car accident back in 2015 and she suffers almost unbearable pain every day. Like the young man from the Gold Coast, she was prescribed CBD oil by her doctor but was simply unable to afford her prescription if she acquired it through legal channels.
Though it is true that access to medical Cannabis is already available, yet legally controlled, the prohibitive cost means that Cannabis products remain inaccessible for many Australians.
Why is Medical Cannabis Expensive in Australia?
Since its legalisation back in 2016, the cost of medical Cannabis has been a major stumbling block for those who might need it. Though the cost has gone down drastically over time, a lot of patients still feel that Cannabis prices are still too steep making it impossible to simply go through legal channels for acquisition. Australian patients are still paying prices that are comparatively higher than those in other countries.
With price being a huge barrier for most patients, it led them to purchase their medication on the black market. The young man from Gold Coast soon discovered that he can buy Cannabis oil for a quarter of the local price by importing it from a US-based website. Similarly, the mother from Melbourne is left with no option than to purchase Cannabis products from the black market.
Another barrier is the fact that doctors wishing to prescribe medical Cannabis must first apply to the TGA seeking individual patient approval. The time-consuming process provides further incentive for patients to access Cannabis products through illegitimate sources. Which licensed Cannabis industry warns that there is no guarantee of purity or safety with black market products.
Accordingly, they say they have complete control over the environment to ensure product consistency. This allows them to continually test the plants for contaminants, bacteria and mould. With strict regulations and high production costs, means that their end product is far more expensive than those acquired from the black market.
A study of medical Cannabis use in Australia showed that 21.2% of those surveyed said they acquired their medicine from an illicit dealer since legal medical Cannabis was too expensive.
Apart from production cost, what really is the cause why medical Cannabis is so expensive in Australia? We can cite two main reasons:
- Most medical Cannabis is imported from overseas. The Medicinal Cannabis Industry Australia (MCIA) estimates that 95% of medical Cannabis products in Australia are imported from Canada and Europe.
- The stringent regulatory requirements imposed by the government on medical Cannabis manufacturers and distributors.
From a patient’s perspective, such as our subjects from Gold Coast and Melbourne, it would appear to them that these Australian companies are taking advantage and jacking up prices. While clinics normally do charge fees for completion of the application process and some independent GPs mark up their application process, there are other areas that add up to the retail price.
- Duty and Tax charges
- Special storage facilities: Cannabis is a schedule 4 or schedule 8 drug
- Quality control and testing
- Shipping costs: Until an approval is received, medical Cannabis can’t be stored in pharmacies.
- Domestic operations cost
In other countries, regulatory and supply chain costs are not added to the products. Thus, until Australia develops its homegrown and manufactured products, the price of medical Cannabis will remain costly.
Albeit slowly, the Australian Cannabis industry is growing at a fast rate. This is good news for it means that locally cultivated Cannabis and locally manufactured medical Cannabis products will be reduced in price dramatically. Eventually, the young man from the Gold Coast and the mom from Melbourne will be able to source out their CBD medication locally with assured quality and efficacy.
Estimate Cost of Medical Cannabis or CBD Oil and THC Oil
The average present-day cost of medical Cannabis, such as CBD Oil and/or THC Oil is around $10-15 per day. That would total to an average of $300-450 per month. Though it may look expensive, it is the cheapest it has ever been in Australia. Though admittedly, the cost is still high as compared to those bought outside Australia.
Medical Cannabis can be beneficial for patients who are suffering from various conditions. Residents of Australia can now easily get their prescriptions easily. However, the cost is still quite prohibitive, for now. The cost adds up depending on the amount you will need and it will also depend on what condition you have.
The more serious the condition, the more they will need potent medical Cannabis which costs more than one taking a normal dose. Simply put, the price fluctuates depending on the type of medical Cannabis you require. It will also depend upon your daily dose and the amount needed for your condition.
While it is important to talk to your doctor about the price of Cannabis medicine, it is doubly important for your doctor to find the right product with the correct terpene and cannabinoid content that will be beneficial for your condition. And also bear thought that like in any other medication, Cannabis does not work for everyone.
But for that young man in Gold Coast and that mother in Melbourne, they hope that local prices of medical Cannabis goes down to a more reasonable price so that they will no longer rely on black market products.
If you find the cost of medical Cannabis to be too prohibitive for you, we can assist you and see if you qualify for the Compassionate Access Program. Regardless of the assessment outcome, patients are eligible for significant discounts on a range of medications.