‘Medicinal cannabis’ is usually prescribed to treat the effects of certain conditions such as pain management, epilepsy management, joint degeneration, improved movement, appetite stimulation for weight gain, reduce nausea and vomiting, slowing degeneration of neural pathways and mood.
Specific conditions treated include cancer, neuropathic pain, multiple sclerosis, HIV/AIDS, spinal cord injury, diabetes, end-of-life illnesses, treatment-resistant epilepsy, arthritis, Crohn’s disease, patients undergoing chemotherapy, Alzheimer’s disease, anxiety, depression and sleep disorders.
While the recreational use of cannabis remains illegal across all federal, state and territory laws, most jurisdictions permit the prescription of ‘medicinal cannabis’ under specific circumstances.
The following is the current legal status regarding the prescription of ‘medicinal cannabis’ in each jurisdiction:
Australian Capital Territory: Legal if prescribed by medical practitioner who is duly authorised under Commonwealth and territory law to do so. More information here.
Information regarding obtaining authorised prescriber approval from the TGA can be found on the TGA website at https://www.tga.gov.au/
Information regarding importation of ‘medicinal cannabis’ products can be found on the Office of Drug Control website at https://www.odc.gov.au/
Follow the link for information on the ACT Medicinal Cannabis Medical Advisory Panel.
New South Wales: Legislation was passed in 2016 that makes certain cannabis-based products allowed for medicinal use in appropriate cases; for example, in treating chemotherapy induced nausea and vomiting. Under the policy, doctors have to apply to relevant authorities in order to prescribe cannabis-based products. These changes were made with the Poisons and Therapeutic Goods Amendment (Designated Non-ARTG Products) Regulation 2016 and came into effect on the 1 August 2016. More information here.
Further questions about the Medicinal Cannabis Compassionate Use Scheme should be directed to www.dpc.nsw.gov.au/contact
Northern Territory: Not legal. Cannabis is listed as a prohibited drug. More information here.
Queensland: Legal by prescription from a specialist for patients with a range of conditions including multiple sclerosis, epilepsy, cancer and HIV/AIDS. See Public Health (Medicinal Cannabis) Act 2016. More information here.
South Australia: Legal by prescription from doctors under certain conditions. More information here.
Tasmania: There is a Controlled Access Scheme which allows patients to access unregistered ‘medicinal cannabis’. This did not require legislative change. Commonwealth law means that Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) approval is still required to access ‘medicinal cannabis’ products approved under the scheme. More information here.
Victoria: Legal for use by children with severe, treatment-resistant epilepsy, under the Access to Medicinal Cannabis Act 2016 . The legislation enables access to locally manufactured ‘medical cannabis’ products for a defined group of patients. More information here.
Western Australia: Legal by prescription from doctors under certain circumstances under the Misuse of Drugs Act 1981 [WA]. More information here.