How to Start Your
With the Help of
Australia Cannabis Consultants
The land down under is known for its kangaroos, beaches, and koalas. But in the near future, it might also be known for its cannabis. With recent developments in its cannabis laws, and with evolving social attitudes that are more accepting of cannabis, Australia could become an incredible investment opportunity.
Read on to know more about Australia’s cannabis laws and how our Australia cannabis consultants can help get you into the industry in the outback.
What is the History of Cannabis in Australia?
Cannabis arrived on the Australian shores in 1788 aboard the first British ships to reach the island-continent. Hemp was critical to the British Empire, but Britain depended on Russia to supply its hemp, and Russia was not a reliable source.
According to some accounts, the need for a reliable source of hemp was a main purpose behind the British colonization of Australia.
For the next 150 years, cannabis was an accepted part of Australian life, used for both recreational and medicinal purposes. In the mid-1800s, Australians could even purchase cannabis cigarettes called “cigares de joy.”
But this all changed drastically in the early- to mid-20th century when the U.S. embarked on a campaign of “reefer madness” and outlawed cannabis in all forms. In 1925, an international coalition enacted the Geneva Convention on Opium and Other Drugs, which lumped cannabis into the same categories as heroin and cocaine.
Shortly thereafter, all of the Australian states officially outlawed cannabis, beginning with Victoria’s passing the Poisons Act 1928 and eventually leading to Australia’s adoption of the 1961 U.N. Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs. It was not until well into the 21st century that the legal status of cannabis began to change again.
Questions on cannabis
of Cannabis in Australia
As research revealed the health benefits of cannabis, public support grew for using the drug to treat the terminally ill and those with intractable childhood epilepsy.
In 2016, this support led the Australian parliament to pass the Narcotics Drug Amendment, legalizing the use of cannabis for scientific and medicinal purposes. The Australian Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) rescheduled both THC and CBD in 2017.
Now, CBD is regularly available without prescription and over the counter throughout Australia, and THC can be prescribed by any physician (subject to additional state conditions).
If you’re interested in entering Australia’s cannabis market, it’s important to familiarize yourself with the laws concerning the type of license and cannabis you’re interested in.
The Australia cannabis consultants at Higher Yields Consulting can help you with everything from understanding Australia’s particular laws to writing your business proposal to securing funding.
Medicinal Cannabis Industry
Though the Australian parliament legalized cannabis throughout the country, each state and territory governs its own access to medicinal cannabis. The Office of Drug Control (ODC) works with the TGA and state and territorial governments to determine patient eligibility for medicinal cannabis.
To qualify for a medicinal cannabis prescription, a patient must follow a multi-step process that begins by discussing his or her condition(s) with a physician. Once the patient is approved, the doctor will order medicinal cannabis to a pharmacy using a select list of suppliers that have been approved by the Australian government.
Because medicinal cannabis is regulated at the federal level, the ODC is responsible for investing and approving all medicinal cannabis industry applications. It is important to note that only certified and licensed pharmacies may dispense medicinal cannabis in Australia.
Obtaining a medicinal cannabis industry license in Australia has been described as a “daunting, time-consuming and exhaustive process,” so it is recommended that anyone interested in joining this industry to retain the assistance and advice of a professional cannabis consulting company.
Our Australia cannabis consultants have decades of combined experience navigating cannabis laws in the U.S. and throughout the world. If you’re interested in knowing more about what it takes to open a cannabusiness in Australia, here’s what to know about each type of license.
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Licenses in Australia
If you are looking to attain a license for hemp or cannabis in Australia Higher Yields Cannabis Consulting can help. Our team of cannabis licensing consultants and technical writers has had great success helping newcomers and experienced operators attain licenses all over the world.
A medicinal cannabis cultivation license allows the holder of the license to cultivate, produce, or do both. There are no restrictions on the number of licenses that may be granted, but Australia is bound by international laws not to produce more medicinal cannabis than necessary to meet the demand of medicinal cannabis patients. In addition to a license, the licensee must be granted a permit that is in accordance with both the Narcotic Drugs Act 1967 and the Narcotic Drugs Regulation 2016 before they can begin their operations.
Similar to the cultivation and production license, to manufacture medicinal cannabis in Australia, you must obtain both a license and a permit.
There are a number of aspects to consider when applying to be a medicinal cannabis manufacturer in Australia:
- Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP) compliance
- The tight control of supply
- State and territorial license requirements
- The limitations on the exporting of cannabis
- Whether you would like to import cannabis material
Though subject to a stringent list of requirements, a person granted a manufacturer’s license and permit will be authorized to enter into contractual agreements with cultivators and producers of cannabis to create medicinal cannabis products.
Australia cannabis consultants can help you ensure you’re taking every aspect under consideration and meeting all requirements for your manufacturing license.
Importing & Exporting Licenses
Australia’s medicinal cannabis imports and exports are controlled by both Australian law and international drug laws. What products may be exported depends, in part, on how the exported product would affect the domestic supply of medicinal cannabis.
In addition to licensing and permitting, to import medicinal cannabis into Australia, the trade in cannabis must be legal in both Australia and in the exporting country. Australia only allows the importation of delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol — all other isomers of THC are prohibited.
Under limited circumstances, a medical practitioner may authorize the importation of a particular medicinal cannabis product if appropriate and necessary for a patient.
Is Recreational Cannabis Legal in Australia?
Recreational cannabis in Australia is a somewhat different story than medicinal cannabis. Unlike medicinal cannabis, recreational cannabis remains illegal (or at least, decriminalized) throughout most of Australia.
However, a study from 2016 showed that over one-third of Australians over the age of 14 years old have tried cannabis in their lifetime, and over 10% of the entire population has tried cannabis within the last year.
Because recreational cannabis is becoming more prevalent, it has prompted many state and territorial governments to reconsider their cannabis laws. Though Commonwealth (federal) law has outlawed recreational cannabis, some states and territories have settled on their own policies.
So, for a real understanding of Australian recreational cannabis laws, we need to look at each state or territory individually. Here’s what you need to know about each state’s or territory’s specific cannabis laws. For an in-depth understanding of a particular location, speak to one of our Australia cannabis consultants.
Cannabis in Australia’s States & Territories
Australian Capital Territory
Although it’s located in New South Wales (NSW), the Australian Capital Territory (ACT) maintains many of its own laws. In 2019, the ACT parliament passed the Drugs of Dependence (Personal Cannabis Use) Amendment Bill 2018 and became the first and only Australian state or territory to fully legalize recreational cannabis.
Now, anyone 18-years-old and up may lawfully possess up to 50 grams of dried cannabis (or 150 grams of fresh cannabis) and may grow two plants per adult (up to four plants per household).
There are many noticeable issues with the ACT’s recreational cannabis laws, but as cannabis is increasingly accepted in Australian society, it’s not unreasonable to believe the ACT may address these issues and create a promising recreational cannabis industry in the near future.
In South Australia (SA), it’s illegal to possess, consume, grow, or sell recreational cannabis, but it is decriminalized in most instances. Per the Expiation of Offences Act 1996, if you’re caught with a small amount and it’s your first offense, you’ll pay a small fine and/or be required to attend classes on the impacts of cannabis use.
But if you are caught with a commercial quantity (over 100 grams of cannabis or over 20 grams of resin), you can be charged with trafficking, which can get you a prison sentence of 15 years to life and/or a fine of $1 million.
In Western Australia (WA), possession of up to 10 grams of dried cannabis is largely decriminalized on the first offense, requiring offenders to attend drug counseling. After the initial infraction, if you’re caught possessing cannabis, you can be charged criminally.
Though currently prohibited in WA, there have been recent efforts to legalize recreational cannabis.
In Victoria, the possession and use of cannabis are two separate criminal offenses, categorized and punished the same as cocaine, heroin, LSD, amphetamines, and MDMA. If you are caught with a trafficable quantity (250 grams or 10 plants), you could face 15 to 25 years in prison and/or a hefty fine.
But first-time offenders who are caught with 50 grams or less are often given a warning and required to attend drug counseling courses. An offender also has the option to attend additional diversion programs to avoid a prison sentence.
New South Wales
Under the Drugs Misuse and Trafficking Act 1985, cannabis possession in New South Wales (NSW) is defined as a criminal offense punishable by two years’ imprisonment and/or a fine of $2,200.
According to the Criminal Procedure Regulation, the police officer involved may give the offender up to two warnings at his or her discretion. If you are caught manufacturing, cultivating, or trafficking large quantities of cannabis in NSW, you can be sentenced up to life in prison and/or a fine of $550,000.
Tasmania has made the possession of cannabis a criminal offense under the Misuse of Drugs Act 2001. Like many of the other Australian states and territories, there are diversion programs or drug counseling classes available to low-level, first-time offenders.
The maximum penalty for simple possession is about $8,000 and/or two years’ imprisonment, but trafficking of cannabis can lead to up to 21 years in prison. Additionally, possession of merely smoking cannabis paraphernalia can get you fined almost $8,000.
If you’re going to consume or possess recreational cannabis in Australia, don’t do it in Queensland! Under the Drugs Misuse Regulation Act 1987 as well as three additional acts of legislation, recreational cannabis possession is punished as harshly as heroin, cocaine, methamphetamine, or MDMA.
First-time offenders may be offered a diversion if the prosecutor exercises his or her discretion to do so, but otherwise, the maximum penalties for cannabis possession can be 15 to 25 years in prison. Perhaps these laws may change over time, but for now, Queensland strongly disfavors recreational cannabis consumption.
Like almost every other state and territory in Australia, under the Misuse of Drugs Act 1990, the Northern Territory (NT) criminally punishes larger amounts of recreational cannabis possession (100 grams or more) while largely decriminalizing small, personal amounts (with a fine of less than $200).
However, possession in public places or near children can mean serious prison time — a two-year prison sentence — and cultivation near a child can lead to a life term of imprisonment. Cultivating cannabis, even less than five plants, could also result in a two years’ imprisonment.
Overall, the NT’s attitude toward cannabis almost mirrors that of the ACT. So, in the near future, it is not out of the question to think that the NT may reform its laws to allow recreational cannabis.
In the meantime, the Australia cannabis consultants at Higher Yields Consulting can get you started on the early stages of your cannabusiness so you’re ahead of the game when recreational cannabis is finally legalized across the country.
Australia Cannabis Consultants Can Help
You Enter the Australian Cannabis Industry
If you’re interested in getting into the medical cannabis industry in Australia, the first thing you should do is contact Higher Yields Consulting. Our Australia cannabis consultants can guide you through this difficult and arduous process so you can realize your dreams of cannabusiness ownership.
If you’re interested in entering Australia’s recreational cannabis industry, you will need to wait a little. Since the ACT has allowed at least home growing, and since most states and territories have decriminalized small amounts of cannabis, it is reasonable to believe Australia may fully legalize cannabis in the near future.
Last updated: July 2022