Two researchers working in a laboratory

Medicinal Cannabis

Legislation to enable the cultivation of cannabis for medicinal and related research purposes in Australia was passed by Parliament on 29 February 2016. The amendments relating to licensing came into effect on 30 October 2016. A detailed regulatory framework has been put in place to enable applications for licences and permits for the cultivation, production and manufacture of medicinal cannabis products.

Medicinal cannabis products are only available for specific patient groups under medical supervision.

Domestic cultivation of medicinal cannabis will enable sufficient quantities of raw materials to be available to meet the needs of local manufacturers. It also ensures that quality control measures on medicinal cannabis-derived products can be enforced to protect patient safety.

It is important to note that cannabis cultivated for other purposes (other than for industrial hemp) remains illegal.

Amendments to the Narcotic Drugs Act 1967 (ND Act), which came into effect on 24 December 2021, introduced a single licence model for regulating medicinal cannabis cultivation, production and/or manufacture activities.

A medicinal cannabis licence can authorise any or all of the following activities for medicinal or scientific purposes:

  • cultivation and/or production of cannabis plants, cannabis or cannabis resin
  • manufacture of a cannabis drug for one or more permitted supplies.

Among other issues, an applicant must satisfy the Office of Drug Control, which administers the ND Act, that it is a fit and proper person in order to be granted a licence.

The 'fit and proper person' test is applied to the applicant and to relevant business associates of applicants. This test involves consideration of a range of matters including criminal history, connections and associates, financial status, business history and capacity to comply with licensing requirements.

Guidelines covering Fit and Proper Persons and Suitable Staff are provided on the ODC website and should be read and understood before completing the online application form. Guidance on completing a medicinal cannabis licence application form is also available.

Before any activity under a licence can commence, the licensee will need to obtain a permit, which will set out the types and amount of cannabis plants, cannabis or cannabis resin that can be grown and/or produced, and the types and quantities of cannabis drug that can be manufactured, under a licence.

Cultivators

Cultivators need to hold either a medicinal cannabis licence or a cannabis research licence granted by the Office of Drug Control.

Manufacturers

Manufacturers need to hold a manufacturing licence granted by the Office of Drug Control.

Import and export

Find out more about import and export, including information about international drug conventions.

Patient access

More information about patient access to medicinal cannabis products.

Application forms and guidance

Links to permit and licence forms and guidance.

FAQ

Answers to common questions.