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Australian company granted first license to grow and export medicinal cannabis -

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ELEANOR HALL: Back home now and a Norfolk Island cannabis producer has become the first Australian company to be granted a license to grow and export medicinal cannabis to the international market.

Australian advocates of medicinal marijuana say it's long overdue and they're frustrated that the drug still hasn't been legally approved for use in Australia.

Mandie Sami has our report.

MANDIE SAMI: Medicinal marijuana in Australia is still illegal.

But many people argue that's wrong, given the growing anecdotal and scientific evidence of its medicinal benefits.

Troy Langman, the founder of AusCann. His company has just become the first to be granted a license in Australia to grow and export medicinal cannabis to an international market.

TROY LANGMAN: Well, I mean obviously it's very exciting that we get the opportunity to be the first company in Australia to produce medicinal cannabis.

MANDIE SAMI: AusCann intends to export its entire first crop to Canada by the middle of next year and then ramp up production from an initial one tonne to 10 tonnes by 2018.

The Australian Government's administrator of Norfolk Island, Gary Hardgrave, still has the power to stop the project from going ahead.

He has once before.

But Mr Langman is confident this time will be different.

TROY LANGMAN: The issue has advanced significantly since then so you know, I'm hopeful that this time around we might be allowed to proceed.

MANDIE SAMI: Mr Langman says he understands there's frustration building among Australian's who want access to medicinal marijuana and can't get it.

TROY LANGMAN: Obviously going to be increasingly frustrating for them. I'm Australian and you know, when I set out to do this in the beginning I was doing this for Australia so, not that of course any human in the world is less worthy but it would be certainly my dream to be able to help people in the country in which I live.

MANDIE SAMI: Lucy Haslem is a vocal campaigner pushing the benefits of medicinal marijuana after her son used it for relief after being diagnosed with cancer. It frustrates her that an Australian company is making medicinal cannabis available overseas while people in Australia still can't access it.

LUCY HASLEM: And I've learnt to be really patient I suppose. I've just learnt that we're so tied up in bureaucratic red tape in this country that nothing happens quickly.

For Daniel it didn't happen quick enough and for a lot of people it's not happening quick enough, but I do know that there are things happening behind the scenes that hopefully will, you know, evolve over the next couple of months and get us into a place where it's a level playing field for patients that need it.

MANDIE SAMI: Australian Senator and Greens leader, Dr Richard Di Natale, says it's beyond belief that an Australian company doing so much overseas in this area is unable to help Australians.

RICHARD DI NATALE: Yeah, well, it just demonstrates that we need to change the law here in Australia. We need to ensure that people who would get benefit from medicinal cannabis, they should be able to get access to it and in fact, I've got a bill before the Parliament that would allow that to happen.

MANDIE SAMI: How soon do you think it is going to be a reality that it's legal in Australia - the bill that you are working on, how soon will that come before the Parliament?

RICHARD DI NATALE: Well, I'm hoping it will come before the Parliament in the coming months and I've been encouraged by the level of support I've had from members, it must be said, on all sides of politics.

I'm really urging the Prime Minister to get behind this legislation. It's legislation that's modelled on the best examples of what goes on internationally; makes it very clear that we're going to treat this separately from the issue of recreational cannabis, that we will have a very strict framework for licensing people to grow it.

Other countries around the world have done it. We've not got a business that's going to be growing medicinal cannabis in Australia for export without that product being made available to Australians. It makes absolutely no sense.

The evidence is very, very clear that for a number of conditions medicinal cannabis provides benefit to patients and we've got to make sure now we just come into the 21st century, support the legislation that I've got in the Parliament and make this a reality for those people who are suffering.

ELEANOR HALL: Greens leader, Richard Di Natale ending Mandie Sami's report.