New legislation that was introduced by Australia’s Federal Government has approved the importation of medical cannabis in the country, however individual states and territories have their own laws regarding access to medical cannabis. Click on an Australian Territory below to view the local regulation status for medical cannabis.
Medical Cannabis Regulations by Territory
New South Wales
The approval process in place now. Poisons and Therapeutic Goods Amendment (Designated Non-ARTG Products) Regulation 2016 (under the Poisons and Therapeutic Goods Act 1966) enabled the prescription of cannabis products by clinicians in NSW from 1 November. In NSW there is to be no limitation on the conditions for which a cannabis-based product may be prescribed. Each application from a prescribing doctor for approval to prescribe will be considered on its merits. Applications must be accompanied by clinical evidence about use of the product to allow for an assessment of potential benefits and harms. It will also be expected that approved standard medicine or non-medicine treatments have already been utilised for the patient. The requirements for approval are the similar to that required by the TGA under the APS.
Victoria was the first state to introduce medical cannabis as a legal form of medicine and other states are quickly following. Initially treatment is restricted to treatment resistance epilepsy, however, Victoria is establishing an independent medical committee of 16 people to oversee the roll-out of medicinal cannabis to patient groups. It is legal for children with severe epilepsy that have tried many types of medication but are looking for an alternative and more successful medication.
The Public Health (Medicinal Cannabis) Act 2016 commences on 1 March 2017. This also does not specify particular conditions or symptoms and the requirements for approval are similar to that required by the TGA, ie the patient has already tried the conventional treatments available and these have failed and the provision evidence that medicinal cannabis is effective for the particular condition or symptom.
the positon in WA is still not clear. A committee is to be established by the WA Health Minister. We understand that there will not be any restrictions on the conditions for when medicinal cannabis can be prescribed. We have a meeting with the Minister’s office on Thursday this week to hopefully clarify matters.
developing the Controlled Access Scheme to commence in 2017. The VIC Department of Health and Human Services will establish an Expert Panel of clinicians to assess applications. Guidelines were to be released later this year. We can update you once they are released.
Australian Capital Territory
Scheme yet to be developed. Their website provides that once all necessary national changes have been made by the Australian Government, South Australian laws will allow medicinal cannabis to be prescribed by certain specialist doctors and dispensed by pharmacists. It also provides that the South Australian Government will work with medical practitioners and other experts to develop the details of an access scheme. As the necessary national changes have been made they should be in a positon to implement the scheme.