Australia Has Legalised The Growth Of Medical Cannabis

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Categories : Cannabis news

Australia Has Legalised The Growth Of Medical Cannabis

Australia is the latest country below the equator to legalise medicinal cannabis. We cut through the legalise and jargon to bring you the straight dope on how the legal medical marijuana market is developing and what it means for medicinal cannabis users.

On Sunday 30th October 2016, medical marijuana became legal in Australia. Bipartisan support in the national parliament for legalising medical marijuana led to the Narcotic Drugs Amendment Act 2016.

We welcome all news of cannabis legalisation for both medicinal and recreational purposes. Although most Australian medical cannabis users will be initially delighted with the prospect of legal medical cannabis, the devil is in the detail.

You need to scratch beneath the surface to gain a clearer perspective how exactly the Australian Medicinal Cannabis Model is going to operate. We have examined the legislation and the key players and we have some concerns.


The Narcotic Drugs Amendment Act 2016 states “A licensing and permit scheme regulates the cultivation of cannabis plants and the production of cannabis and cannabis resin.

Cultivation and production, and related activities, under the scheme are for medicinal purposes or for research relating to medicinal cannabis.

The reclassification of marijuana as medicine rather than scheduled as a dangerous narcotic is the responsibility of the Therapeutic Goods Administration. According to their website they play a similar role to the Food & Drug Administration in other countries.

“The Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) is Australia's regulatory authority for therapeutic goods. We carry out a range of assessment and monitoring activities to ensure therapeutic goods available in Australia are of an acceptable standard with the aim of ensuring that the Australian community has access, within a reasonable time, to therapeutic advances” -

Furthermore, the Ministry of Health will be keeping tight control over the regulation of the legal medicinal cannabis industry through its Office of Drug Control (ODC). This effectively makes health minister Sussan Ley the puppet master of the Australian Medical Marijuana business.


Unfortunately, from State to State access to treatment is variable. For instance, for patients suffering from illnesses such as MS, HIV/AIDS, Cancer and other serious and/or terminal illnesses, States like Queensland and New South Wales can cater to the most diverse range of adult patients.

To date, no legal medical marijuana crops have been cultivated in Australia. Supply of medicinal marijuana will be restricted to prescription from pharmacies, and most patients should not expect to be able to legally acquire medicinal cannabis until early 2017.

Huge swathes of the country have no data to provide at all in South Australia and the Northern Territory. Therefore it would appear that the current model contradicts the principals and core objectives of the TGA.

Of great concern is the absence of provisions tailored to home cultivation of medicinal marijuana by the very patients themselves. Similarly, access to medical cannabis for minors could be blighted by a lack of specifics. At time of writing, home cultivation is still not a legal option for medical cannabis users.

Australia Has Legalised The Growth Of Medical Cannabis


If you imagine the Australian Government has opened the floodgates for an inclusive medicinal cannabis industry, you are mistaken.

In fact, the ODC have recently released a 23 page Guideline for would be cultivators to consider before they even contemplate cropping some herb.

You can check out the complete text, but even a cursory inspection will give you a sense this was designed with corporate interests in mind rather than end users.

Investing in a purpose-built, high-security hardened facility is far beyond the means of any small time wannabe Australian medicinal grower.

Plus, according to the latest ODC estimates the non-refundable fees and charges for applying for the necessary paperwork are as follows: AU$ 5,290 for a cultivation/production application, AU$ 1,830 for a cultivation/production permit and to top it all off there’s the AU$ 7,050 for an inspection in relation to an application.

By the way, in the eyes of the law, harvesting your plants is technically a production process, so you’ll need to shell out for both. Not to worry your legal team and accounts department will handle this tricky red tape.

These expensive barriers to entry will prohibit medical cannabis users becoming self-sufficient and make them completely dependent upon a monopoly.

Competition is good for the market regardless of the product or service. When a monopoly is created the consumer always suffers from high prices and restricted choices.

This kind of stringent regulation confers an uncompetitive advantage upon the big players like the Big Pharma companies that are certain to cash in on the captive Australian medicinal cannabis market.

Outdoor weed farmers could never hope to achieve regulatory compliance, and outdoor Australian marijuana looks set to be the hot black market commodity in 2017.


In its present form, the Narcotics Amendment Act 2016 is nothing more than a “market-maker” for Big Business in cooperation with Government to legally seize control of the Medicinal Cannabis industry.

Pages and Pages of regulations stipulate all kinds of security requirements but not one paragraph detailing numbers of plants or strains permitted for cultivation.

Over regulating to the point that outdoor cultivation is impossible is utterly insane policy anywhere, but especially in Australia. Perhaps we are being cynical, but this whole model was either deliberately designed to suit commercial interests or perhaps the Department of Health didn’t design it in the first place?

Leaving the obvious genocidal black spot of The Philippines aside, the cannabis legalisation movement has really been gathering some steam across the southern hemisphere.

Medical Marijuana has become socially acceptable and legal across much of South America. Cannabis clubs have even been emerging in Chile and Colombia; this was once unthinkable.

The medical marijuana models in South America are not perfect but they are definitely more end user focused than the Australian model.

Like it or not marijuana is the new high-value commodity of the 21st century, and global cannabis trade is just over the horizon. We recommend a more patient-centric approach for Australia and the Government can always legalise recreational use if they really want fat tax revenues.