Medical Marijuana in Australia

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’s Medical Marijuana Program

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.

History of Medical Marijuana in Australia

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:

  • Victoria was the first state to legalize cannabis medicine in 2016, but it only permits its use for children dealing with epilepsy.
  • Then, New South Wales joined Victoria the same year, allowing cultivation for scientific research.
  • Afterward, Queensland established fairly liberal medical marijuana laws.
  • Western Australia followed Queensland by implementing comparatively strict medical marijuana laws.
  • Tasmania began to let patients acquire marijuana medicine in 2017.

Medical Marijuana Possession and Cultivation in Australia

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.

Medicinal Cannabis Telemedicine in Australia

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.

How to Qualify for Medical Marijuana in Australia

Whether you qualify for cannabis medicine depends on your state. Check out these examples:

  • New South Wales: Patients must be reviewed by a panel before getting treatment.
  • Queensland: Patients with a condition on a long list of approved disorders can use medical marijuana.
  • Tasmania: The state’s health department considers applications on a case-by-case basis.

Registering for Medical Marijuana in Australia

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.

Medical Marijuana Penalties in Australia

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.

Australian Medical Marijuana News

While we are based in the United States, 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.

Resources for Medical Marijuana Patients in Australia