Licences for the cultivation and production of medicinal cannabis

Page last updated: 09 November 2017

The Narcotic Drugs Act 1967, administered by the Office of Drug Control (ODC) within the Department of Health, establishes a licence and permit scheme to regulate the cultivation and production and manufacture of medicinal cannabis. The scheme allows patients and doctors to access a legal domestic source of cannabis for medicinal use.

As at 31 August 2017, a total of 22 licences have been issued under this scheme: ten medicinal cannabis licences (commercial cultivation and production), six cannabis research licences, and six cannabis manufacture licences. The ODC has another 56 licence applications under assessment.

Application forms and guidance materials for licences and permits for cultivation, production and manufacture of medicinal cannabis are available via the ODC website.

Even with those licences granted, it will be some time before domestically produced products are available to the public, with the first trial crops having being harvested in August 2017. To support access to medicinal cannabis while the domestic cultivation and manufacture scheme comes online, the Department of Health allows sponsored import of medicinal cannabis products in anticipation of patient prescriptions. To date,118 of such sponsored import permissions have been granted.

There are currently three pathways that patients may utilise to access medicinal cannabis products that are domestically produced or imported under sponsored import: Special Access Scheme , Authorised Prescriber (AP), or clinical trials.

Unregistered medicinal cannabis products can now also be prescribed under the Special Access Scheme Category A (SAS A). However, it is important to note that due to the requirements of the Narcotic Drugs Act 1967, SAS A prescriptions must be individually imported on a patient by patient basis. Depending on the jurisdiction of residence for a patient, there may also be additional state or territory government requirements that may need to be met, such as for controlled (S8) medicines.

More information about patient access to cannabis through these mechanisms is available on the Therapeutic Good Administration website.