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Medical Cannabis in Australia – Is It Legal?

Is it legal to grow and consume medical marijuana seeds in Australia? The answer is yes, but it’s a little more complicated than that.

When it comes to acquiring medical marijuana seeds, plants, and everything else that is necessary, it’s impossible to do it without the government’s permission. The same goes for the final product – you can’t get it without a prescription.

We’ve put together an overview of what the status of medicinal cannabis in Australia is – as well as some exemptions and rules when it comes to production and the use of marijuana.


The Legalization

In 2016, the Australian government pronounced that the growing and use of cannabis for medicinal and research purposes will be made legal. The production of the crop and the final product is heavily regulated and controlled.

The first state in Australia to legalize and invest in this growing industry was Victoria, with other states following right behind. All of them invested in the cannabis industry and are now witnessing an expanse and a bigger market.

The medicinal side of things is overseen by the Department of Health, which follows the progress of using medicinal marijuana in helping with multiple medical conditions such as:

  • Chronic pain

  • Epilepsy

  • Multiple sclerosis

  • Nausea during chemotherapy

Since its legalization, the modest number of patients has increased rapidly.

The research also includes looking into the therapeutic uses of medicinal cannabis, which is still being explored, but it has seen positive effects in countries like the USA and Canada. Hopefully, this subject will be further questioned and possibly be brought to attention in Australia as well.


Growing Medicinal Cannabis

The cultivation and production of medicinal cannabis are strictly regulated by the Office of Drug Control (ODC). The medicine that comes from it is under the wing of the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA).

Both the ODC and the TGA are both parts of the Australian Government Department of Health. Together they comprise the Health Products Regulation Group.

To obtain either a cultivation permit or a production permit from the ODC is a process that includes various steps and preconditions that must be fulfilled. This consists of a background check, as persons with a criminal history cannot get this permit without going through an extensive process.

The preconditions to obtaining a license are demonstrating that cannabis production is to supply the holder of a medicinal cannabis manufacturer license – or for researching the properties of medicinal cannabis or products made out of it.

The permit will regulate what type and amount of cannabis you will be producing. The timeframe in which it can be produced is also limited. The next party in the supply chain is determined by the government as well.


The Exclusion of the Rule

The only exclusion to the general rule where medicinal marijuana is heavily regulated is the Australian Capital Territory (ACT). ACT started decriminalizing recreational marijuana in 2019 and succeeded in doing so in January of 2020.

All its residents over the age of 18 can possess up to 50 grams of dry product or up to 150 grams of fresh cannabis without risking going through the justice system. These are considered small amounts by the law, but possessing more than the regulated amount is a criminal offense.

It’s also legal to grow marijuana in your home, as long as you have no more than two plants per person or four plants per household. The consumption is also limited to your residence, as it is still illegal to consume cannabis in public.

Selling seeds, plants, or the final product is still illegal, as well as exposing children to cannabis or growing it in a place where the public can access it. These regulations also apply if you are driving under the influence of marijuana, as driving with cannabis in your system is still considered illegal.

In Conclusion

Medicinal cannabis is legal in Australia, but it is still very strictly regulated by the government, and its recreational use is decriminalized only in a small part of the country. Australia is progressive and is just now starting to see the benefits that legalizing medicinal cannabis brings to the economy and the healthcare system.

In the future, there might be further steps to ease the process of growing cannabis for medicinal purposes or even decriminalizing the recreational use of cannabis in more territories – but for now, that’s still just wishful thinking.