Medicinal Cannabis in Queensland

Medicinal Cannabis

Cannabis – also known as marijuana – has been used for centuries for medicinal, spiritual and recreational purposes. It is also a well-used source of industrial fiber, seed oil and food in its other forms.

Cannabis is currently neither legal, nor is it decriminalised in Queensland. However, cannabis is used recreationally in most countries around the world, with community attitudes, clinical trials and scientific data moving us towards a change in the law. The research showing that there can be ‘safe’ use of cannabis in specific instances.

Cannabis being dispensed at a dispensary
Cannabis being dispensed at a dispensary

Who grows medicinal cannabis?

In 2016, Australia passed a law allowing licensed growers to legally cultivate medicinal cannabis. To obtain a license to grow medicinal cannabis, someone must demonstrate:

  • They are a fit and proper person;
  • They have not committed a serious offence in the last 10 years; and
  • They will take all necessary steps to ensure the physical security of the cannabis including being able to demonstrate suitable location, facilities and proposed security arrangements for the cultivation activities.

These criteria are incredibly strict and licenses are limited because the penalties that relate to the unlawful possession, production, supply or trafficking of a drugs such as cannabis are even tougher. An offender could face a maximum custodial sentence of 20 years imprisonment for cultivation of more than 500 grams (or 100 plants).

How do people get access medicinal cannabis?

People can request access to medicinal cannabis via three routes in Queensland

  • Prescription by a medical specialist that is registered by the TGA to prescribe medicinal cannabis products for recognised classes of patients;
  • Prescription by your doctor, who must seek individual approval with the TGA to prescribe a cannabis product to you; and
  • Participate in a clinical trial (if you meet the criteria).

At the moment there is only one medicinal cannabis product which is approved for use in Australia. Patients who require other products which need to be imported will be required to obtain approvals from TGA and the Queensland Department of Health.

Since the federal government made these changes to the legislation in Australia, more than 12,000 prescriptions have been written for medicinal cannabis nation-wide since it was made legal.

Medicinal cannabis has not been as thorough as many other types of pharmaceuticals due to the strict regulation on the product up until this point. Preliminary trials of medicinal cannabis have shown it to be effective as a pain reliever and to help lessen the effects of conditions such as epilepsy.

Cannabis extract being administered
Cannabis extract being administered

Things to consider when taking medicinal cannabis

  • It is illegal for you to drive
  • Be mindful travelling interstate with medicinal cannabis
  • School-aged children need the drug to be administered by the school staff in the same way other prescribed medications are given

More information

For more information about your legal obligations in relation to medicinal prescriptions and cannabis, please get in touch with our team of experienced lawyers.

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See our drugs & the law post for a more general view and familiarise yourself with police powers in Queensland.

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