Medicinal cannabis legislation passes Parliament

Parliament has passed legislation permitting Australian patients to access a safe, legal and reliable supply of medicinal cannabis products for the management of painful and chronic conditions.


Today’s passing of amendments to the Narcotic Drugs Act will, for the first time, provide a pathway of legally-grown cannabis for the manufacture of suitable medicinal cannabis products in Australia.


Minister for Health Sussan Ley said, “A national regulator will allow the Government to closely track the development of cannabis products for medicinal use from cultivation to supply and curtail any attempts by criminals to get involved,” Ms Ley said.


“The legislation also ensures Australia meets all of its international obligations under the Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs.”


Under this scheme, a patient with a valid prescription can possess and use a medicinal cannabis product manufactured from cannabis plants legally cultivated in Australia, where the supply is appropriately authorised under the Therapeutic Goods Act 1989 and relevant state and territory legislation.


To support this, Ms Ley also announced the Department of Health, in conjunction with the TGA, was currently well-advanced in having cannabis for medicinal purposes considered for down-scheduling to Schedule 8 of the Poisons Schedule.


“This will simplify arrangements around the legal possession of medicinal cannabis products, placing them in the same category as restricted medicines such as morphine, rather than an illicit drug. This will in turn reduce any barriers to access, no matter what state a patient lives in,” Ms Ley said. A TGA interim decision due in March 2016.


Ms Ley also announced an independent Advisory Committee would be established to oversee the next stage of the rollout of the national regulator now that legislation has passed.


Ms Ley reminded Australians today’s announcement did not relate to the decriminalisation of cannabis for general cultivation or recreational use, which remained a law enforcement issue for individual states and territories.


24 February 2016.