Market Date: 8 July, 2020

Recent medicinal cannabis improvements in Australia

There have been a series of improvements progressing the Australian medicinal cannabis market.

Key developments include recommendations put forward by Professor John McMillan AO geared toward reducing the regulatory burden in the medicinal cannabis business, the Australian Capital Territory legalising ownership of up to 50 g of cannabis for a person over 18 years old and allowing the cultivation of around four cannabis plants (excluding artificial farming ), along with the Australian Government announcing it’ll likely be investing AU$3 million to the sector for study.


The Australian Federal Government has a completely established cannabis manufacturing and production regulatory regime. The Narcotic Drugs Act 1967 (Cth) ( ND Act) builds a permit and permit scheme to control the cultivation, manufacture and production of medicinal cannabis. The strategy enables patients and physicians to get a national legal supply of cannabis for medicinal use. The ND Act gives effect to Australia’s obligations under the Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs, 1961 as in force from Time to Time.

Key Developments

Since the legislation came into effect on 30 October 2016 to permit the legal cultivation, manufacturing and production of medical cannabis products in Australia, there were a succession of developments progressing the Australian medicinal cannabis market.

Key developments include:

  1. Permitting the export of Australian manufactured medicinal cannabis goods, subject to local requirement.
  2. The introduction of new laws in Queensland (revoking the Public Health (Medicinal Cannabis) Act 2016 (Qld)) to simplify the procedure for patients and physicians to gain access to medicinal cannabis.
  3. About 5 September 2019, Professor John McMillan AO’s Final Report ( Final Report) about the performance of this ND Act was tabled in Parliament. Minister Hunt has approved all 26 recommendations set forward by Professor McMillan that’s mostly targeted at reducing the regulatory burden on the medicinal cannabis market. Especially, Professor McMillan recommends replacing the current three license arrangement from the ND Act using one license arrangement. This may require substantial legislative and administrative adjustments.
  4. On 25 September 2019, the Australian Capital Territory handed the Drugs of Dependence (Private Cannabis Usage ) Amendment Bill 2018 that amends the Drugs of Dependence Act 1989 (ACT) and the Criminal Code 2002 (ACT) to legalise the possession up to 50 g of cannabis for somebody over 18 years old and allow the cultivation of around four cannabis plants (excluding artificial farming ).
  5. About 6 October 2019, the Australian Government announced it’ll likely be investing AU$3 million to analyze the benefits of medicinal cannabis to handle pain, symptoms and side effects in cancer patients. The results of the studies will greatly help health professionals at the treatment of medicinal cannabis solutions. Normally, cannabis goods are prescribed for treatment signs like chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting, neuropathic pain, epilepsy and cancer pain. But, there’s now a scarcity of information on dose response and adverse events in using medicinal cannabis solutions.

What is next?

In the brief term, it’s expected a number of those reforms arising out of the Final Report will be put into place in the end of the year.

A specific challenge within the course of the upcoming few decades will be on creating a streamlined procedure for the distribution of medicinal cannabis both at a Commonwealth and State level to prevent unnecessary administrative burden for both providers and manufactures.