Patients and Health Professionals
Commonwealth legislation now provides a mechanism for the legal cultivation, processing and manufacture of medicinal cannabis substances in Australia.
The Commonwealth Government made a change to legislation in November 2016 that enables patients to be prescribed medicinal cannabis.
Since November 2016, medical practitioners in South Australia can legally prescribe medicinal cannabis products with Commonwealth and relevant state approvals.
The South Australian Government has now announced a patient access pathway to clarify access to medicinal cannabis.
This means that State authority is only required after 2 months of treatment, or before commencing treatment where the person is already prescribed a Schedule 8 drug (for a period exceeding 2 months) and for any person the medical practitioner reasonably believes to be dependent on drugs.
Exemptions apply for patients aged 70 years or older and for Notified Palliative Care Patients.
Schedule 8 medicinal cannabis can be prescribed when initiated by, or recommended in writing by, a specialist medical practitioner with expertise in the medical condition being treated.
Medicinal Cannabis - Cultivators and Manufacturers
Medicinal cannabis is regulated by the Australian Government through the Office of Drug Control and the Therapeutic Goods Administration. Anyone wanting to research, cultivate or manufacture medicinal cannabis must obtain a licence and a permit.
To obtain the necessary permissions there are stringent requirements to be met. You will need to satisfy a 'fit and proper person' test as well as provide detailed plans showing how and where you propose to grow, store, handle and transport the crop, including security arrangements, as well as details and arrangements of who will manufacture the medicinal compounds.
Industrial Hemp - Cultivators and Manufacturers
Industrial Hemp is produced from cannabis plants with a low tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) content - less than 1% THC in the leaves, flowers and stems. It provides no psychotropic effect from its consumption.
South Australia’s Industrial Hemp Act 2017 commenced on 12 November 2017. It is supported by a regulatory and licensing framework under the Industrial Hemp Regulations 2017 and Industrial Hemp (Fees) Regulations 2017. On the same date Food Standards Code for Australia and New Zealand (FSANZ) to allow hemp food products with low-THC hemp seed or hemp seed oil.
PIRSA are responsible for issuing licences for industrial hemp possession, cultivation and production. Industrial hemp licence application forms are available from PIRSA by calling 1300 799 684 or emailing PIRSA.IndustrialHemp@sa.gov.au. You can find more details on their website.
A series of industrial hemp trials are currently underway in the Riverland and South East of the state. The information generated in these trials will provide prospective growers the best advice when considering industrial hemp as a potential crop for their farming enterprise.
Research and Development
There are a number of programs and organisations available to assist companies looking to invest in South Australia, including:
- The $10m South Australian Early Commercialisation Fund
- The $50m South Australian Venture Capital Fund
- Innovation in SA
- Investment Attraction South Australia
- Health Industries South Australia
- The $3.6b Adelaide BioMed City
Frequently Asked Questions
Medicinal cannabis products that meet the Therapeutic Goods Administration standards will be considered for use on prescription in South Australia. Cannabis cultivated for other purposes including recreational use (other than for industrial hemp) remains illegal.
The cultivation and manufacture of medicinal cannabis is regulated by the Commonwealth Government under the Narcotic Drugs Act 1967 by the Office of Drug Control (ODC).
The ODC is now accepting applications for cultivation and/or manufacturing licences and permits. The only State authorisation required in addition to satisfying all the ODC and Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) requirements is if you wish to hold and supply TGA authorised medicinal cannabis compounds in which case a SA Health Wholesale Dealer's licence is required.
No, people cannot legally grow their own cannabis for medicinal use; even it has been prescribed for them by their medical specialist.
Throughout Australia, it remains illegal to cultivate cannabis or manufacture cannabis products. The only exception will be where cultivation and manufacture is done under a license and a permit granted under the Commonwealth licensing scheme for medicinal use.
Medical specialists in South Australia can already prescribe medicinal cannabis with relevant Commonwealth and state approvals.
Pharmacies or pharmaceutical companies are holding stockpiles of imported medicinal cannabis products until locally manufactured products are available.
Following the Commonwealth legislative changes in 2016, medicinal cannabis products for therapeutic use that meet the Therapeutic Goods Administration standards will be considered for use on prescription in South Australia when prescribed by a medical practitioner with the required approvals, and dispensed by a pharmacist.
Currently there are no medicinal cannabis products lawfully manufactured in Australia and only a limited number of products lawfully made overseas that might be approved for import. Commonwealth legislative changes provide for the cultivation and manufacture of Australian produced medicinal cannabis products.
The Commonwealth Office of Drug Control has recently made changes to allow approved importers of medicinal cannabis products to hold supplies of medicinal cannabis products in Australia so that they may be available in a more timely fashion. It is envisaged that these imports will provide a temporary solution to improve the timeliness of supply while the domestic cultivation and manufacture scheme comes into effect.
Medicinal cannabis products will not be available over the counter and patients will not be able to access medicinal cannabis products for smoking.
To consider whether medicinal cannabis is an appropriate treatment option, a specialist medical practitioner, in discussion with their patient, considers the clinical information and evidence for medicinal cannabis in the condition to be treated.Visit SA Health for more information
The conditions for which medicinal cannabis might be considered will likely be complex medical conditions and as such, prescribing of medicinal cannabis is restricted to specialist medical practitioners with expertise in the management of the disease being treated. In certain circumstances, authority may be granted to a general practitioner where written support for treatment is provided by the patient’s treating specialist.
To prescribe or supply an unregistered medicinal cannabis product requires Commonwealth approval. State authority is not required to prescribe schedule 8 medicinal cannabis unless it is being prescribed for longer than 2 months or to patient already prescribed a Schedule 8 drug for a period exceeding 2 months, and for any person the medical practitioner reasonably believes to be dependent on drugs.
Exemptions apply for patients aged over 70 years of age and Notified Palliative Care Patients.Visit SA Health for more information
Industrial hemp is from Cannabis plants with a low tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) content, less than 1% THC in the leaves, flowers and stems, and thus there is no psychotropic effect from consuming it. Instead it can be used processed for use in items such as textiles, building products and a range of cosmetic products.
Industrial Hemp in Food will be legal from November 2017.
Primary Industries and Regions South Australia (PIRSA) is working with industry and interested parties with growing trials of alternative cultivars of industrial hemp. The trials will determine test varieties for South Australian conditions considering both seed and fibre production interests. Permits for these trials are restricted to PIRSA led trials only.
The Industrial Hemp Regulations 2017 and The Industrial Hemp (Fees) Regulations 2017 set out the licensing framework. You can apply to PIRSA for a five year license to cultivate and/or process industrial hemp. One of the requirements is that you satisfy a “fit and proper person” test and must only employ or engage persons who are suitable to carry out the activities authorised under the licence.
You can only sell the industrial hemp you grow to someone that holds an industrial hemp license which allows the license holder to grow, use industrial hemp in a manufacturing process, food products (when authorised) or for research purposes.