Updated on January 30, 2019. Medical content reviewed by Dr. Joseph Rosado, MD, M.B.A, Chief Medical Officer
Medical marijuana is a new frontier in Australia, and with new legislation comes a lot of changes. Since Australia’s medical marijuana policies operate on a state-by-state basis, it can be hard to determine if you can become a legal patient.
Australia doesn’t have a country-wide medical marijuana program. Federal law permits medical marijuana all over the country, and each state allows medical marijuana to some extent. However, the details vary from state to state.
The Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) is working with Australia’s states to make state laws as consistent as possible. So far, recommending practitioners must have state authorization, and they can only prescribe cannabis for patients with conditions scientifically shown to improve with it.
At the time of writing, Australia doesn’t allow recreational marijuana use. Anyone who wants to use marijuana medically must follow their state’s medicinal cannabis laws.
In February 2016, Australia’s parliament passed the Narcotics Drugs Amendment Bill 2016, which set the framework for medicinal cannabis cultivation. Medical marijuana became legal on a federal level in November 2016, with the states soon to follow:
Only people licensed to have marijuana can carry it in Australia. Qualified patients can legally possess it. Plus, manufacturers and researchers can get licenses to complete their work.
When medical marijuana was first legalized, Australia had to import medicine from Canada while they grew their own. Australia issued the first marijuana cultivation license in February 2017.
Some doctors in Australia offer Telehealth services. When a patient uses Telehealth services, they use telecommunication like videoconferencing to get services from a doctor.
Do you live in an area where there are no doctors willing to prescribe cannabis medicine? You can search online for medical cannabis portals that get you in touch with someone who will.
Whether you qualify for cannabis medicine depends on your state. Check out these examples:
Like other medical marijuana policies in Australia, getting approval depends on the state you live in. No matter where you live, you’ll need help from a doctor who’s willing to prescribe cannabis medicine. Once you go through the procedures, you’ll get a prescription to use like a normal prescription.
While Australia can import medical marijuana products, they can’t export them. However, they may begin to export them in the future. In addition, the TGA categorizes medical and recreational marijuana under two different drug schedules. While recreational marijuana is a Schedule 9 drug, medical marijuana is a Schedule 8 drug.
The penalties that people face for illegally possessing or using marijuana varies by state. For instance, Northern Australia decriminalized marijuana in the 1980s, so it considers possession at the same level as a traffic offense. Protections for medical marijuana patients also depend on the state that the patient lives in.
While we are based in the United States, MarijuanaDoctors.com believes in the importance of informing patients and doctors of crucial medical marijuana updates from all over the world — including Australia!
Stay up to date on Australia’s medicinal cannabis news by following our blog updates, where we also post about medical advice and lifestyle tips for patients.