Australian Senate Parliament House

Biortica Supports Senate Legislation Rejection

“Yesterday a Senate committee rejected the Green’s bill for the legalisation of cannabis.  Given some of the significant issues raised by Biortica about this bill, it is not entirely surprising,” said Tom Varga, CEO of Biortica Agrimed, Australia’s largest B2B grower of medicinal cannabis.

“There is already a well-established regulatory framework that includes the ODC and TGA which the Green’s legislative proposal appears to have missed,” he said.

On Friday, May 31st, Senator David Shoebridge, introduced draft Green’s legislation to the Senate to legalise the personal use and growing of cannabis to be regulated by a national agency. The Senate committee rejected the draft legislation citing concerns for public health.

“Whilst I applaud the Greens initiative and efforts, as drafted, the policy risked health and risked creating division. It was poorly considered. The Greens seemed to have taken all of the worst examples of overseas legislation and thrown it together for this bill, “ said Varga.

“Any future framework must avoid any likelihood of sale to minors. Locally, we have ample examples and experience from the tobacco and alcohol industries to understand how important it is to get the regulatory framework right,” he said ,” Gosh you only have to witness the current criminal impact on Melbourne’s legal tobacco retailers to understand that.”

Varga went on to say, “Worldwide, both adult use and medical cannabis legalization has gained momentum.  The USA and Canada are seen as the most mature markets, with Europe starting to catch up.  We should be looking to these jurisdictions and drawing upon their legislative and regulatory experiences in terms of what works and what doesn’t.”  He said, “The Greens attempt to create a Canadian style central wholesale structure doesn’t work. All that does is increase the likelihood of an illicit market.  Even now the Canadian authorities are amending those initial legislative and regulatory mis-steps, so why would we adopt their mistakes.”

“Two things are needed in crafting responsible legislation,” said Tom, “Information & Balance”.

“Any decision can only ever be as good as the information it is derived from. Understand the market – at all levels.  Consider the consequences that are likely to flow from government intervention.  Improve the quality and quantity of information that enables a fully informed decision process to be undertaken and the odds go up significantly of a better outcome and in turn, better crafted legislation.”

“And Balance,” he said, “It’s about balancing the needs and wants of society – balancing the rights of an individual with those of society as a whole in terms of consumer protection, impact on health and minors,  taxation, enforcement both criminally and regulatory, and ensuring that those involved in the industry are fit and proper, legal abiding people.”

While Biortica is completely focused on the medicinal cannabis market, the company agrees with some of the points that have been raised in the bill. What this failed process has highlighted though, is the need to have cultivators, manufacturers, product providers (brands), regulators and politicians all at the table, working together, rather than any one entity working in isolation.

“Our position has remained focussed and unchanged,” said Tom Varga, “Formation of an industry steering committee, get all stakeholders to the table, let’s learn from overseas experience, let’s get it right. We can make Australia the world leader in cannabis regulation, framework and consumer outcomes.”