The cannabis industry saw a number of exciting evolutions in 2021 (notwithstanding a couple of setbacks along the way) that has positioned 2022 for a potential tipping point in the mainstream market.  Increased access, innovative suppliers, tighter quality standards and the ability for doctors to more efficiently access all medicines have set the scene for major mainstream acceptance.  Here is what we can look forward to this year, provided the ‘powers-that-be’ don’t stifle the attempts to catch up with the rest of the modern world.

Affordability

Perhaps the biggest barrier for Australian patients to enter the legal, regulated medicinal cannabis market has been the traditionally high price.  This is particularly true for whole flower, which is easily accessible on the black-market.  While it is easy to sell the benefits of medicinal cannabis (i.e. quality assurance, consistency, legal, accessible) the reality is even $50 more than street prices is too much for many in our community to bare.  In 2022, it seems, this may change, with many licenced producers helping to reduce pricing via Compassionate Access Schemes (CAS).  CAS schemes are very helpful for those that qualify, however, there are still countless “average” Australians who may be “able” to afford the additional $150 - $350 per ounce, they choose not if they have cheaper access on the black-market.  The big news, patient owned and operated start-ups, such as Elevated Extracts, are now ushering in the era of affordable medicinal cannabis for all Australians, without substituting for quality.  This is part of their #EqualAccess program being rolled out February 2022 (more details to follow).

Access

Be it a physical Cannabis Clinics, Telehealth or your local GP, doctors around Australia are increasingly open to prescribing cannabis, based on the overwhelming and ever-mounting evidence being provided by patients and trials domestically and abroad.  This, paired with the TGA rescheduling some products and reshaping the process and applications required for new patients and returning has open the door to a more streamlined approach.  To be sure, there is still more red tape than patients and doctors would like, but it’s a step in the right direction.

Options

We are all unique and, given the broad range of conditions medicinal cannabis is used to treat, it is no surprise the product, delivery method and communication needs will differ between patients.  With the exponential growth of the market comes steady growth in the industry players, all vying for their own particular niche in the industry; a net win for patients.  Particularly so, as the domestic audience begins to truly understand the nuance between particular strains and become more sensitive to what works best for them personally.

Legislation

Yes, it can be said we are still in the dark ages as compared to the increasing number of countries that have progressed into a legal fully recreational market, however, we are rapidly catching up.  Not only is the red tape for prescribers being reduced, there is now some serious groundswell around reforming the driving regulations.  As of time-of-writing, all states (with the exception of Tasmania) have very restrictive legislation regarding to driving with THC in one’s system.  Worse still, the current testing technology is so sensitive that a positive result is likely far past the possible intoxicating effect (aka high).  However, the good people at Drive Change are working tireless, along with many political advocates such as The Hon. Dr. Brian Walker of the Legalise Cannabis Party.

Education

The key to success in all innovation and disruptive movements is quality information that is easy to digest and readily available.  Currently, the information is coming in thick and fast.  The challenge; making it palatable for these who don’t live and (literally) breath cannabis.  Further, the challenge of distributing said information to the mainstream so that the truth about the plant’s undeniable benefits is accepted in the zeitgeist.  Luckily, there is a plethora of international and domestic though-leaders, including politicians, athletes, artists, doctors and public intellectuals, who are advocating for the industry.  Perhaps more relevant domestically is the rise in popularity in local industry media, such as Honahlee, Cannaus and 420 Seconds With….

Of course, we never know what the future holds and if the last two years has taught us anything, it’s that the word can change in a moment.  However, with the tipping point of mainstream acceptance, domestically and around the world, it is fair to say that true cannabis #EqualAccess is possible in the not-too-distant future.