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Cultivating Cannabis in Queensland

It has been possible to grow medicinal cannabis legally in Queensland and the rest of Australia since 2016 if a person is licensed to do so. Cultivating cannabis for any other purpose or without a medicinal cannabis license is a criminal offence in most states and territories. However, the ACT now permits an adult to cultivate up to two cannabis plants, with a maximum of four plants per household. This page outlines the laws surrounding the cultivation of cannabis in Queensland.

Cultivating medicinal cannabis in Queensland

Medicinal cannabis in Queensland is governed by both state and federal law.

Federal law

Under section 8E of the Narcotic Drugs Act 1967, a person in Australia can apply for a medicinal cannabis license. With a license, a person may obtain, cultivate and produce cannabis resin or cannabis plants for medicinal purposes provided they do so under strict controls. The licensee must have a location that is suitable, as well as the facilities and security arrangements.

A person will only be issued with a medicinal cannabis license if they are a fit and proper person and have not committed a serious offence in the last 10 years. They must also show that they will take steps to ensure the physical security of the cannabis.

A license will be issued only if the Health Department considers it is appropriate.

Medicinal products can be made from cannabis for use by patients with MS, epilepsy, chronic pain, epilepsy and HIV.

Queensland law

In Queensland, the Public Health (Medicinal Cannabis) Act, governs applications for treatment of a patient using medicinal cannabis products and for the management of this treatment.

There are three ways a person can access medicinal cannabis in Queensland:

  • They can have the product prescribed by a medical specialist who is already registered to prescribe medicinal cannabis products for particular patients;
  • They can have their treating doctor seek approval to prescribe a cannabis product to you;
  • They can participate in a clinical trial (if they are eligible).

Patients who require cannabis products that have not been approved for use in Australia must seek approvals from the Commonwealth Therapeutic Goods Administration and the Queensland Department of Health before these products can be prescribed.

Medicinal cannabis is commonly prescribed in Queensland in the following contexts:

  • drug-resistant epilepsy in children
  • chemotherapy-induced nausea in adults
  • symptoms associated with multiple sclerosis
  • palliative care

Doctors can apply to prescribe cannabis products for other conditions or symptoms, but they must support their application with clinical evidence that supports the proposed treatment.

Cultivating cannabis offences

Drug offences in Queensland are contained in the Drugs Misuse Act 1986.

The offence of cultivating cannabis in Queensland falls under section 8 of the Drugs Misuse Act, which makes it an offence to produce a dangerous drug. When the drug produced is cannabis, the maximum penalty that applies depends on the quantity that is produced. If more than 500 grams of cannabis or more than 500 plants are involved, the maximum penalty that applies is imprisonment for 20 years. In any other case, the maximum penalty is imprisonment for 15 years.

Despite the lengthy maximum penalties for these offences, a custodial sentence is not inevitable. A person found guilty of cultivating cannabis on a small scale may be dealt with by way of a non-custodial sentence such as a fine or a community based order. A person found guilty of cultivating cannabis in a large commercial operation and without a license can expect to receive a lengthy custodial sentence.

Offences under the Public Health (Medicinal Cannabis) Act

There are also a number of offences contained in the Public Health (Medicinal Cannabis) Act 2016. These offences include performing a regulated activity for medicinal cannabis without authority to do so (section 92); misusing a lawful direction for medicinal cannabis (section 93); and giving false or misleading information in support of an application (section 94).

All of these offences are punishable by a fine only.

If you require legal advice or representation in any legal matter, please contact Armstrong Legal.

Fernanda Dahlstrom

This article was written by Fernanda Dahlstrom

Fernanda Dahlstrom has a Bachelor of Laws, a Bachelor of Arts and a Graduate Diploma in Legal Practice. She has also completed a Master’s in Writing and Literature. Fernanda practised law for eight years, working in criminal defence, child protection and domestic violence law in the Northern Territory and in family law in Queensland.

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