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 Drugs 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 for possession and use by individuals if it is lawfully supplied to them, for example, prescribed by a doctor who has the necessary Commonwealth authority/approvals.
The method prescribed by the doctor for using medicinal cannabis may vary (e.g., in liquid form or by inhalation). Although it is not an offence under the Medicines and Poisons Act 2019 for an individual to use the medicinal cannabis in these varying ways, there may be some other considerations, for example, using medicinal cannabis with a personal vaporiser in a smoke-free area may be an offence under the Tobacco and Other Smoking Products Act 1998 (Qld).
In addition, if the prescribed medicinal cannabis impacts an individual such that they are impaired while driving, or if the medicinal cannabis contains tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and they drive, this may be an offence under the Transport Operations (Road Use Management) Act 1995, irrespective that the medicinal cannabis was prescribed by a doctor.
If an inspector 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.
Monitoring and enforcement
The Medicines and Poisons Act 2019 and subordinate regulation (Medicines and Poisons (Medicines) Regulation 2021) includes monitoring and enforcement controls to ensure scheduled medicines, including medicinal cannabis products, are not used or supplied illegally.
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 (also known as the Poisons Standard). It details who can carry out regulated activities with scheduled medicines, including medicinal cannabis, in Queensland.
There are also requirements for people dealing with medicines to report certain matters to the chief executive of Queensland Health in a range of circumstances (e.g., when the lost or theft of an S8 medicine is suspected or when prescriptions or purchase orders are suspected to be unlawful e.g., false, or fraudulent).
Further information is available at: Reporting medicines matters to the chief executive
Inspectors (authorised persons) can be appointed under the Medicines and Poisons Act 2019 with the authority to enter places (e.g., pharmacies, medical practices) to monitor compliance with the legislation. An authorised person is also empowered to seize evidence of an offence against the Medicines and Poisons Act 2019 or Medicines and Poisons (Medicines) Regulation 2021.
Restrictions on advertising medicinal cannabis
The advertising of medicinal cannabis products is restricted by State and Commonwealth laws, to the wholesale, medical and pharmaceutical professions only. Advertising or promoting medicinal cannabis is a breach of the Medicines and Poisons (Medicines) Regulation 2021 and the Commonwealth Therapeutic Goods Act 1989.
Under this legislation, a person must not advertise, or cause someone else to advertise, an S3, S4 or S8 medicine.
The Medicines and Poisons (Medicines) Regulation 2021 does allow for price lists or other promotional material intended for circulation only to health professionals, or advertisements in accordance with the Therapeutic Goods (Therapeutic Goods Advertising Code) Instrument 2021
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.