Medicinal cannabis legislation and compliance
The Queensland controls around medicinal cannabis balance allowing treatment with medicinal cannabis and the necessary controls to ensure medicinal cannabis products are not used illegally.
These controls are consistent with other legislation.
Illegal cannabis use
Growing your own cannabis and recreational use of cannabis is still illegal under:
- Commonwealth Therapeutic Goods Act 1989 (Commonwealth)
- Narcotic Drugs Act 1967 (Commonwealth)
- Queensland Drugs Misuse Act 1986
- Medicines and Poisons (Medicines) Regulation 2021
Users of illicit cannabis may be subject to drug offences under the Drug Misuse Act 1986 including unlawful possession, supply, production and trafficking of a dangerous drug. The maximum penalties for these crimes range from 15 to 25 years imprisonment, depending on the amount of cannabis involved and circumstances of the offence.
Medicinal cannabis is only legal if prescribed by a doctor with the necessary state and Commonwealth authority/approvals. Any use beyond the prescribed way of using the drug becomes an offence and may attract both administrative and criminal penalties. The approvals may be withdrawn, and the matter referred to police for investigation. For example:
- the prescribed medicinal cannabis is given to an unauthorised third party
- medicinal cannabis that is prescribed to be vapourised but is then smoked may be considered an offence.
Medicines and Poisons (Medicines) Regulation 2021
The Medicines and Poisons (Medicines) Regulation 2021 prescribes controls over the possession, supply, administration and other activities for substances listed in the Standard for the Uniform Scheduling of Medicines and Poisons. It details who can carry out regulated activities with scheduled medicines in Queensland.
Monitoring and enforcement
The Medicines and Poisons Act 2019 includes monitoring and enforcement controls to ensure scheduled medicines including medicinal cannabis products are not used illegally. These controls are consistent with other legislation.
Inspectors (authorised persons) can be appointed with the authority to enter places (pharmacies, medical practices) to monitor compliance with the legislation. An authorised person is also empowered to seize evidence of an offence against the Act.
If an authorised person or a police officer finds a person in possession of a cannabis product, they can determine if the product is an authorised medicinal cannabis product by:
- checking the label of the product packaging: medicinal cannabis dispensed legally will be labelled as a lawful prescription from a pharmacy, or
- contacting the prescriber and pharmacist who dispensed the medication to determine the validity of the prescription.
Restrictions on advertising medicinal cannabis
The advertising of medicinal cannabis products is restricted to the wholesale, medical and pharmaceutical professions only by State and Commonwealth laws. Advertising or promoting medicinal cannabis is a breach of the Medicines and Poisons (Medicines) Regulation 2021 and the Commonwealth Therapeutic Goods Act 1989.
A person must not advertise, or cause someone else to advertise, an S3, S4 or S8 medicines.
The Regulation does allow for price lists or other promotional material intended for circulation only to health professionals, or advertisements in accordance with the price information code of practice.
The advertising of therapeutic goods to consumers and health practitioners is also controlled by the Therapeutic Goods Administration and self-regulation through Codes of Practice administered by the relevant therapeutic goods industry associations. In all cases the advertising of therapeutic goods should be directed exclusively to health professionals.