2 January 2020

A cultivator will need to hold either a medicinal cannabis licence or a cannabis research licence granted by the Office of Drug Control (ODC) under the Narcotic Drugs Act 1967 (Cth) (the ND Act) to cultivate cannabis for medicinal or related research purposes.

A medicinal cannabis licence authorises either cultivation (the growing of cannabis plants) or production (the separation of cannabis and cannabis resin), or both.

There is no restriction on the number of licences that can be granted; however, under international conventions, the overall quantities produced must not exceed domestic requirements. Therefore, the number of cultivators that will be licensed to grow and supply cannabis to licensed manufacturers will depend on the demand from prescribers and the patient groups they treat.

ODC will not be able to grant a medicinal cannabis licence unless it is satisfied that the cultivation and production of cannabis is for supply either to a person licensed to produce cannabis or a person licensed to manufacture medicinal cannabis products. In practice, this may mean the applicant demonstrating that they are known to the producer/manufacturer and that producer/manufacturer is willing to enter into contracts for the supply of cannabis raw material.

When applying for a permit, a licensee will need to have, and submit to ODC, a contract with the producer/manufacturer that satisfies any requirements set out in the Narcotic Drugs Regulation 2016 (Regulations).

Mixed use crops (i.e. separating cannabis from the plant for medicinal/research purposes and using the remainder for industrial purposes) are not permitted under both Australian domestic legislation and international drug conventions. Therefore, cannabis grown for medicinal purposes will need to be grown and used solely for that purpose. A person may hold a medicinal cannabis licence from ODC and an industrial hemp licence from the relevant state/territory, but will have to maintain strict separation between the two crops and comply with the applicable security requirements. Regular site inspections will be undertaken to ensure compliance.

A cannabis research licence authorises the cultivation and/or production of cannabis for research related to the medicinal use of cannabis.

In order to obtain a cannabis research licence, an applicant will need to explain the purpose of the research and how it relates to medicinal cannabis and/or medicinal cannabis products. See the forms and guidance section of the website for further guidance on research activities.

A cultivator may cultivate for both medicinal purposes and related research purposes, but they will need to hold licences and appropriate permits for each.

In all cases the licensee will need to hold a permit(s) issued under the ND Act before any cultivation or production commences.