Legalisation of Cannabis in Australia

The discussion surrounding the legalization of marijuana in Australia has been ongoing for a long time. While the recreational use of marijuana remains illegal across most of the country, its application for medicinal purposes is allowed under certain conditions.

In 2016, the Australian government passed legislation to establish a licensing scheme for the cultivation and manufacture of medicinal cannabis. This allowed patients with certain medical conditions to access cannabis products for therapeutic purposes with the approval of a doctor.

Since then, several states in Australia have also decriminalised the possession of small amounts of cannabis for personal use. However, recreational use of cannabis remains illegal at the federal level, and penalties for possession, cultivation, and trafficking can be severe.

Despite ongoing debates about the potential benefits and risks of legalising cannabis for recreational use, the Australian government has not yet taken steps to change the legal status of cannabis. However, some advocates continue to push for reform, arguing that legalisation could reduce harm associated with the illegal drug trade and generate tax revenue for the government.

Legislation of Cannabis in New South Wales (NSW)

The legislation regarding cannabis in NSW is complex and continues to evolve. At the state level, NSW has not yet legalized cannabis for medicinal or recreational use. However, there have been some recent changes in the state’s approach to cannabis, particularly in regards to medical cannabis.

In 2016, the NSW government established the Terminal Illness Cannabis Scheme, which allows people with a terminal illness to access cannabis products for medical purposes without fear of prosecution. Under this scheme, patients with a terminal illness can apply to the NSW Ministry of Health for approval to use cannabis for symptom relief.

Additionally, in 2018, the NSW government passed the Cannabis Medicines Advisory Service Act, which established a helpline and advisory service for medical practitioners and patients seeking information about medicinal cannabis. This service provides information on the legal requirements for prescribing medicinal cannabis, the available products and their potential benefits and risks, and the regulatory framework surrounding the use of cannabis for medical purposes.

While the NSW government has not yet legalized cannabis for recreational use, there have been recent moves to decriminalize the possession of small amounts of cannabis. In 2019, the NSW government introduced the Cannabis Medicinal Research Bill, which allows researchers to apply for a license to cultivate and supply cannabis for research purposes.

Overall, the legal landscape surrounding cannabis in NSW remains complex and subject to ongoing changes. While there is currently no legal framework for the recreational use of cannabis in the state, the government has taken steps to provide greater access to medical cannabis products for those who need them.

Legislation of Cannabis in Victoria (VIC)

The state of Victoria has taken a relatively progressive approach to cannabis legislation in Australia. In 2016, Victoria became the first state to legalise access to medical cannabis for patients with certain conditions, including cancer, multiple sclerosis, and epilepsy. Since then, the state has continued to expand its medical cannabis program.

Under the Access to Medicinal Cannabis Act 2016, patients in Victoria can access medicinal cannabis products with a prescription from a registered medical practitioner. The products must be sourced from a licensed Australian supplier and must meet strict quality standards. Additionally, patients must have a qualifying condition and have exhausted other treatment options before being prescribed medicinal cannabis.

In 2019, the Victorian government passed legislation to allow the cultivation and manufacture of medicinal cannabis in the state, which has helped to reduce costs and improve access to these products for patients.

While recreational cannabis use remains illegal in Victoria, the state has also taken steps to decriminalize the possession of small amounts of cannabis. In 2019, the government introduced the Cannabis Control and Regulations Bill, which would allow for the possession and use of up to 50 grams of cannabis for personal use by adults. However, this bill has not yet been passed.

Overall, Victoria’s approach to cannabis legislation has been relatively progressive, particularly in regards to access to medical cannabis products. While recreational use of cannabis remains illegal, there have been moves towards decriminalization, and it remains to be seen how the legal landscape surrounding cannabis will continue to evolve in the state.

Legislation of Cannabis in Queensland (QLD)

Queensland is one of the more conservative states in Australia when it comes to cannabis legislation. The use of cannabis for both recreational and medicinal purposes remains illegal in the state, and there are currently no plans to change this.

However, the Queensland government has taken some steps towards increasing access to medicinal cannabis for patients with certain conditions. In 2016, the federal government passed legislation allowing the cultivation and manufacture of medicinal cannabis products in Australia. Under this scheme, the Queensland government has granted licenses to several companies to cultivate and manufacture medicinal cannabis products.

Queensland has also established a Medicinal Cannabis Advisory Service, which provides advice and support to patients and healthcare providers on the use of medicinal cannabis. This service helps patients navigate the regulatory requirements for accessing medicinal cannabis products and provides information on the potential benefits and risks of using cannabis for medical purposes.

Despite these developments, the legal landscape surrounding cannabis in Queensland remains relatively restrictive. Possession, cultivation, and trafficking of cannabis for recreational use can result in significant penalties, including fines and imprisonment. The Queensland government has stated that it has no plans to legalise cannabis for recreational use, citing concerns about the potential harm associated with the drug.

Overall, while there have been some recent developments in regards to access to medicinal cannabis products in Queensland, the state remains one of the more conservative in Australia when it comes to cannabis legislation.

Legislation of Cannabis in South Australia (SA)

In South Australia, cannabis is illegal for recreational use and possession, cultivation, and sale of cannabis is a criminal offense. However, medicinal cannabis has been legal in the state since 2016 under certain circumstances.

The South Australian government allows for the use of medicinal cannabis under strict conditions, including a prescription from a medical practitioner who is authorized to prescribe cannabis. Patients must have a qualifying medical condition, such as cancer, epilepsy, chronic pain, or multiple sclerosis, and must have tried other treatment options without success. The patient’s medical practitioner must also provide evidence that the use of medicinal cannabis would be beneficial for their condition.

Under the current laws in South Australia, medicinal cannabis products can only be obtained through an approved supplier, and patients are not allowed to grow their own cannabis plants. However, the government has established a Medicinal Cannabis Advisory Service to help patients navigate the regulatory requirements for accessing medicinal cannabis products.

The South Australian government has also taken steps to decriminalize the possession of small amounts of cannabis for personal use. In 2020, they introduced legislation that allows for police officers to issue expiation notices to individuals found in possession of up to 25 grams of cannabis. This means that individuals found in possession of small amounts of cannabis can avoid criminal charges and instead face a fine or drug diversion program.

Overall, while South Australia has some of the most restrictive cannabis laws in Australia, recent developments have seen the state take steps towards increasing access to medicinal cannabis and reducing the harm associated with the criminalization of cannabis possession.

Legislation of Cannabis in Western Australia (WA)

In Western Australia, cannabis is illegal for recreational use and possession, cultivation, and sale of cannabis is a criminal offense. However, medicinal cannabis has been legal in the state since 2016 under certain circumstances.

To access medicinal cannabis, patients must have a qualifying medical condition such as cancer, chronic pain, epilepsy, or multiple sclerosis, and a prescription from a medical practitioner who is authorized to prescribe medicinal cannabis. The prescription must be obtained through the Therapeutic Goods Administration’s Special Access Scheme or the Authorised Prescriber Scheme.

Patients in Western Australia are allowed to possess and use medicinal cannabis products that have been prescribed to them, but are not permitted to grow their own cannabis plants. There are currently no cannabis dispensaries in Western Australia, but patients can access medicinal cannabis products through licensed pharmacies.

In 2019, the Western Australian government passed legislation allowing for the cultivation and manufacture of medicinal cannabis products within the state. The state government has also established the Medicinal Cannabis Research and Innovation Fund, which provides funding for research into the use of medicinal cannabis for various medical conditions.

While possession of small amounts of cannabis for personal use is technically a criminal offense in Western Australia, the state has a “cannabis cautioning” scheme in place which allows individuals found in possession of up to 10 grams of cannabis to avoid criminal charges if they agree to attend a drug education session.

Overall, while the laws regarding cannabis in Western Australia are still relatively restrictive, recent developments in the state have seen an increase in access to medicinal cannabis products and a more compassionate approach to dealing with individuals found in possession of small amounts of cannabis for personal use.

Legislation of Cannabis in Canberra (ACT)

In Canberra, the capital of Australia, cannabis possession, cultivation, and use for personal purposes were decriminalized in 1992. This means that possession of small amounts of cannabis for personal use is no longer a criminal offense in the Australian Capital Territory (ACT), where Canberra is located.

Under the current laws in the ACT, individuals are allowed to possess up to 50 grams of dry cannabis, or 150 grams of fresh cannabis, for personal use without fear of criminal charges. However, cultivation of cannabis plants for personal use is still considered a criminal offense, although penalties for this offense have been significantly reduced in recent years.

In 2020, the ACT government passed legislation allowing for the possession and cultivation of up to two cannabis plants per household for personal use. This means that adults aged 18 years or older can grow up to two cannabis plants per household, with a maximum of four plants per household if two or more adults reside in the same residence.

While the possession and cultivation of cannabis for personal use have been decriminalized in the ACT, the sale and supply of cannabis remains illegal. This means that individuals cannot legally purchase cannabis in Canberra, and cannabis dispensaries are not permitted to operate within the territory.

However, the ACT government has established a system for the licensing and regulation of cannabis clubs. These clubs, which are not-for-profit organizations, allow members to bring and share their own cannabis within the club’s premises. The clubs are subject to strict regulations regarding membership, age verification, and safety measures.

Overall, the laws regarding cannabis in the ACT are some of the most liberal in Australia, with possession and cultivation of small amounts of cannabis for personal use decriminalized and a system in place for the licensing and regulation of cannabis clubs. However, the sale and supply of cannabis remains illegal in the territory.

Legislation of Cannabis in Tasmania (TAS)

In Tasmania, cannabis possession, cultivation, and use for recreational purposes are illegal, and the possession of small amounts of cannabis can result in criminal charges. However, the possession and use of medicinal cannabis are legal under certain circumstances.

Since 2017, Tasmanians with a valid prescription from a medical practitioner can legally access medicinal cannabis products. The products must be prescribed through the Therapeutic Goods Administration’s Special Access Scheme or the Authorised Prescriber Scheme, and can only be obtained through licensed pharmacies.

In Tasmania, patients are not permitted to grow their own cannabis plants, and there are currently no cannabis dispensaries in the state. However, the government has established a Medicinal Cannabis Controlled Access Scheme, which allows patients with a valid prescription to access medicinal cannabis products through licensed pharmacies.

In addition, Tasmania is home to the Australian Medicinal Cannabis Observatory, a research facility dedicated to studying the use of medicinal cannabis for various medical conditions.

While the laws regarding cannabis in Tasmania are relatively strict, the state has established a Cannabis Use and Possession Offence Diversion Program, which allows individuals found in possession of small amounts of cannabis for personal use to attend education sessions rather than facing criminal charges. The program is designed to educate individuals about the potential risks associated with cannabis use and provide them with information about harm reduction strategies.

Overall, while cannabis remains illegal for recreational use in Tasmania, the state has established a system for the legal use of medicinal cannabis and a diversion program for individuals found in possession of small amounts of cannabis for personal use.

Legislation of Cannabis in Northern Territory (NT)

In the Northern Territory (NT), possession and cultivation of cannabis for recreational purposes remain illegal, but there have been significant changes in recent years regarding the use of cannabis for medicinal purposes.

In 2016, the NT government passed legislation allowing for the legal use of medicinal cannabis. This means that individuals with a valid prescription from a medical practitioner can legally access medicinal cannabis products. The products must be prescribed through the Therapeutic Goods Administration’s Special Access Scheme or the Authorised Prescriber Scheme, and can only be obtained through licensed pharmacies.

In addition, the NT government has established a Medicinal Cannabis Advisory Council to provide advice on the use of medicinal cannabis and the development of regulations surrounding its use.

While the possession and cultivation of cannabis for recreational purposes remain illegal in the NT, the government has established a Cannabis Harm Reduction Strategy, which aims to reduce the harms associated with cannabis use. The strategy includes a diversion program for individuals found in possession of small amounts of cannabis for personal use, providing them with education and counseling rather than criminal charges.

Overall, while the laws regarding cannabis in the NT remain relatively strict, the government has taken steps to allow for the legal use of medicinal cannabis and to reduce the harms associated with recreational use through harm reduction strategies and diversion programs.