Cannabis Laws Australia

Is recreational cannabis legal in AU?

The legal status of recreational cannabis in Australia depends on where you are. States and territories take different approaches on marijuana, and their regulations have continued to change over the years. 

Last year, the ACT became the first territory in the country to legalise cannabis for recreational use. That law went into on January 31 of this year: 

  • Legalises recreational marijuana within the ACT for those aged 18 and over
  • You can possess up to 50 grams
  • You can also cultivate up to 2 plants of marijuana, or 4 plants per household
  • No marijuana around children
  • You can’t grow marijuana in community gardens 

However, recreational cannabis remains illegal in other parts of Australia, as well as on the federal level. But some other territories have decriminalised the drug. Decriminalising marijuana means that, although it is illegal to possess the drug, it is not a criminal offense but, rather, an infringement which could land you a fine, warning, or educational classes of some sort. 

West Australia decrimalised recreational cannabis in 2004. South Australia and Northern Territory have also decriminalised recreational cannabis use. All other states (except NXW and Queensland) have depenalised recreational cannabis possession/use - that is, they offer options for diversionary programs such as education, assessment, and treatment. Failure to fulfill depenalisation programs will result in criminal charges. 

 

Legal status of cannabis possession for medical use

In 2006, Australia legalised cannabis for medical use. This makes it legal for those with health conditions to possess and use cannabis, so long as they obtained a prescription for the product. 

To do this, your doctor would have to become an authorised prescriber for a certain class of patients, which can be sought from the TGA. A doctor can also apply on a per patient basis through SAS-B (Special Access Scheme B), and apply on your behalf. 

Getting a cannabis prescription started out as a very lengthy, bureaucratic process, riddled with red tape. Initially, it could take months for patients to finally get their prescription. Now though, it could take two weeks to a month.

Medical cannabis prescriptions

Medical cannabis prescriptions are increasing on a monthly basis, but the process still needs to be simplified. src

  

What medical cannabis products are available in Australia

Although cannabis is legal for medical use in Australia, the lengthy process for obtaining a prescription often leads people to turn to the underground market. There, cannabis products are bountiful, but they are likely not what they are marketed to be. This presents a risk, especially for concentrates like CBD oil, where unknown additives might be mixed in the contents.

But if you do get a prescription to obtain cannabis legally, there are many options waiting for you. You’ll find cannabis leaf, plant, or flower; cannabis oils; pharmaceutical cannabis plant drugs or Nabiximols; and synthetic THC which is either Dronabinol or Nabilone. Some common prescription cannabis brands include Sativex, Marinol, and Syndrol.

  

What is the legal status of CBD?

Cannabidiol (CBD) is known for its medicinal properties and its lack of psychoactive effects. This differentiates the compound from THC (Tetrahydrocannabinol), which is known for its psychoactive effects. 

Lacking psychoactive effects, one might expect Cannabidiol to be legal in Australia. However, that isn’t really the case - CBD is only legal for medical use. Further, it must contain over 98 percent concentration to be legal, and less than 2 percent of other additives or compounds such as THC. 

Although CBD is readily available in the black market, you’re safer getting it legally with a prescription. That is because CBD oils on the black market are often fakes. In a study by CBD Reviews Australia, 62 black market products were tested to determine if their claims of CBD concentration were accurate. Only 63 percent of those products actually contained CBD.

  

Final words

In the meantime, the Therapeutic Goods Administration is reviewing lower dose CBD products t determine if to allow them be sold over the counter at pharmacies without a prescription. If that becomes a reality, there will be an increase in CBD availability, and it wouldn’t necessarily be a “medical use only” product.This would also mean that the black market will face a legal competitor - one that is guaranteed to be safer with accurate labeling.