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A State-by-State Guide to Cannabis in Australia

Cannabis is largely illegal in Australia, but the rules differ from state to state. Here’s what to know about cannabis in all eight areas of the country.

Australia made waves when it federally legalised medicinal cannabis in 2016, and its marijuana market has experienced significant growth since then.

A study from FreshLeaf Analytics pegs Australian medical market sales at AU$95 million in 2020, while research firm Prohibition Partners indicates that Oceania’s cannabis industry is expected to be worth US$1.55 billion by 2024; medicinal cannabis is expected to account for 40 percent of the industry.

Despite that growth, the country’s cannabis industry is still young. Recreational use is not yet in sight, and even medical access remains limited and highly regulated.


Currently only one medicinal cannabis product, Sativax, is registered with the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA), and none are subsidised through the country’s Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme. Patients who want access to medicinal cannabis must go through special pathways, and doctors who want to prescribe medicinal cannabis have to apply to do so.

The situation gets more complex at the state and territory level, as each area of Australia has different rules and regulations that must be followed. Read on for a breakdown of the laws for medicinal and recreational cannabis in Australia’s six states and two territories.

Guide to Cannabis in Australia: New South Wales

Use, supply and possession of cannabis is illegal in New South Wales (NSW); however, first-time offenders with a small amount on hand may only be issued a caution. Up to two cautions can be received, and they often come with a referral for drug-related information.

The NSW government recognises the potential of medicinal cannabis to treat debilitating or terminal illnesses. Any doctor can prescribe medicinal cannabis if it is determined an appropriate treatment and the doctor has the approvals required to do so.

In another show of support for the drug, the NSW government has established the Centre for Medicinal Cannabis Research and Innovation to educate the community and monitor clinical trials.

Guide to Cannabis in Australia: Victoria

Recreational possession and use of cannabis is a criminal offence in Victoria, but similar to NSW, those caught with a first offence of 50 grams or less are typically given a caution and directions to attend drug counselling. It’s more serious if there are additional charges or if a person is found with an amount over 50 grams; 250 grams is considered a traffickable quantity of cannabis.

Medicinal cannabis can be prescribed by any doctor for a patient with any condition if they believe it is clinically appropriate. Victoria was the first state to legalise medical marijuana use, and young children suffering from epilepsy were the first to gain access.

Guide to Cannabis in Australia: Queensland

In Queensland, growing cannabis or recreational use is illegal under four different acts. Under the Drug Misuse Act 1986, unlawful possession, supply, production and trafficking have maximum penalties of up to 25 years imprisonment, depending on circumstances such as how much cannabis is involved.

Medicinal use is less frowned upon in Queensland as any registered medical practitioner in the state can prescribe medicinal cannabis if clinically appropriate.

After new legislation changes in June 2020, any Queensland doctor can prescribe Schedule 4 CBD or Schedule 8 THC or CBD products without formal approval from state health authorities.

Medicinal cannabis can be administered via vapour, capsules, sprays or tinctures — smoking cannabis is not allowed in Queensland. Interestingly, advertising medicinal cannabis is restricted to the medical, wholesale and pharmaceutical professions only.

Guide to Cannabis in Australia: South Australia

Cannabis, cannabis oil and cannabis resin are all illegal to keep, use, grow, sell or give away in South Australia. Possession for personal use can be penalised with an expiation, which means a fine that does not attract a criminal conviction. Large-scale trafficking or selling can attract big penalties of up to AU$500,000 and 15 years to life imprisonment, or both.

Those looking for medical cannabis products can obtain them via prescription from an authorised medical practitioner in the region.

Approval under South Australian Controlled Substances legislation is also often required, although there are exemptions for elderly and terminal patients.

Guide to Cannabis in Australia: Western Australia

Even though Western Australia (WA) officially decriminalised cannabis in 2004, Liberal Premier Colin Barnett repealed the decision in 2011 as part of a “tough on crime” approach.

Today, driving with THC in your system is an offence in WA, regardless of whether it is medicinal or recreational. Personal cultivation is illegal.

Medicinal cannabis is available via prescription from any doctor in WA providing they have the required government approval. Prescriptions can be dispensed at any pharmacy.

Guide to Cannabis in Australia: Tasmania

Obtaining medicinal cannabis is arguably most complicated in Tasmania. A patient must have their general practitioner refer them to a relevant specialist; the specialist can then provide medicinal cannabis in limited circumstances once conventional treatment has been unsuccessful.

Tasmania is taking steps to make medicinal cannabis more accessible. Starting on July 1, 2021, general practitioners will be able to fill out prescriptions, although the process is still expected to be slow.

Possession of cannabis is illegal in Tasmania — in fact, any utensil or appliance for preparation, smoking, or inhalation of cannabis is illegal and can attract a maximum fine of AU$7,950. Trafficking an amount of 25 grams of oil or 1 kilogram of plant material carries a serious imprisonment term of up to 21 years.

Guide to Cannabis in Australia: Northern Territory

Cannabis is largely decriminalised in the NT, but possession of a small quantity in a public place still carries an imprisonment penalty. Possession of less than 50 grams in your own home is penalised with a fine only. The penalty for cultivating, even small amounts of less than five plants, is 200 penalty units or two years imprisonment. A commercial quantity of more than 20 plants results in life imprisonment.

The first NT medicinal cannabis patient to fill a script did so in November 2019, but uptake has been slow since then and the NT has a low number of users. That’s largely because there are few doctors who are authorised prescribers in the NT — as the area is remote, travel is not feasible for all residents.

Guide to Cannabis in Australia: Australian Capital Territory

In September 2019, the Australian Capital Territory (ACT) passed a bill to legalise the possession of small amounts of cannabis for personal use as of January 31, 2020. Confusingly, the ACT’s state laws conflict with federal laws, which still prohibit the recreational use of cannabis.

ACT residents who are over 18 can carry up to 50 grams of cannabis and grow as many as four plants — although the 50 gram amount is less than what one plant produces. Plants must also be grown outdoors only, leaving them open to theft.

Medicinal cannabis is available for patients with a number of conditions and also on a case-by-case basis. Doctors must have approval from the ACT chief health officer and the TGA to prescribe.

Don’t forget to follow @INN_Australia for real-time updates!

Securities Disclosure: I, Ronelle Richards, hold no direct investment interest in any company mentioned in this article.

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Zelira Therapeutics Ltd (ASX: ZLD) (OTCQB: ZLDAF), a global leader in the research and development of clinically validated cannabinoid medicines, is pleased to announce the US launch of the Zelira Dermatology Business’ first product line, RAF FIVE ™ through its dermatology subsidiary Ilera Derm LLC (“Zelira Dermatology”).

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  • Peak Processing Solutions (Peak), subsidiary of Althea Group Holdings (ASX: AGH) (Althea) has entered into agreements with BBCCC, Inc., The Boston Beer Company (NYSE: SAM) (‘BBC’), and WeedMD Rx Inc., a subsidiary of Entourage Health Corp. (‘Entourage’)
  • Under the product development agreement, Peak will provide research and development services including laboratory support and the testing of various product formulations and recipes, for the new line of BBC products
  • BBC will provide Peak with funding of up to USD$2m for capital improvements associated with the development project. In addition, Peak will receive a minimum of USD$285,000 for each year of the Term of the agreement (totalling USD$1.42m )
  • Under the 5 year supply and manufacturing agreement, Peak is the exclusive manufacturer of all cannabis beverages produced or sold in Canada under BBC branding, for the term of the agreement
  • Entourage will be responsible for distribution and sales of the cannabis-infused beverages in Canada

Peak Processing Solutions, a subsidiary of Althea Group Holdings Limited (ASX: AGH) (‘Peak’ or ‘the Company’) is a leading developer, manufacturer, and distributor of cannabis infused edible, topical, and concentrate products is pleased to announce that the Company has entered into agreements with WeedMD Rx Inc., a subsidiary of (TSXV: ENTG) (OTCQX: WDDMF) (‘Entourage’) and BBCCC, Inc., a subsidiary of the Boston Beer Company Inc. (NYSE: SAM) (‘BBC’).

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Sydney, Australia (ABN Newswire) – Medlab Clinical Ltd (ASX.MDC), an Australian biotech using delivery platforms to enhance medicines is pleased to announce the execution of a Master Services Agreement (MSA) with WEP Clinical Ltd (WEP) for the exclusive development and delivery of Named Patient Programmes relating to the unlicensed supply of its proprietary NanaBis(TM) and NanoCBD(TM) to patients in the UK and Europe.

This Master Services Agreement is the first partnership for Medlab to supply their cannabinoid medications outside of its current Australian Special Access Scheme.

Dr Sean Hall, CEO of Medlab stated, “This is a major milestone for Medlab to begin supplying NanaBis(TM) and NanoCBD(TM) on prescription for the first time to patients outside Australia.”

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Silver is on the rise in Australia, with new silver mines opening, production potential booming and the precious metal's valuation reaching new heights.

Analysts have been bullish on gold for the better part of the past decade, but now it's silver's time to shine. While the price of silver tends to rise and fall alongside that of gold, silver's valuation is generally more volatile — slower to move in either direction, but more prone to abrupt spikes and plunges.

Considering the market's longtime gold rush, silver is due for a major price hike. In 2020, silver hit a seven year high with 27 percent year-over-year growth, climbing faster than gold. Silver was on the rise again in February 2021, bolstered by WallStreetBets fervour. Though prices have stabilised since, they remain elevated compared to the past decade. Additionally, at only a fraction of gold's valuation, silver is a much more attainable buy.

Shrewd investors are looking to Australia for their silver picks. A country whose silver mines continued to flourish even when most of the world was in a precious metal slump, Australia has emerged from the COVID-19 pandemic as a major player in the global silver market.


A look at Australia and silver mining

When you think of mining in Australia, you may not think of silver, especially since the country is a top global producer of several other metals, including gold and iron ore. Nevertheless, silver is on the rise in Australia, with new silver mines opening, production potential booming and the precious metal's valuation reaching new heights.

This may be surprising news, especially since 2020 was an erratic year for silver. Global silver-mining production plunged by 5.9 percent in 2020 — its biggest drop in over 10 years —⁠ following four years of steady decline.

Output from primary silver mines plummeted by 11.9 percent year-over-year, while silver by-product suffered a more modest drop, with production from gold and lead-⁠zinc mines falling by 5.7 percent and 7.4 percent, respectively. Note that silver is largely produced as a by-product of other metal-mining processes, with 72 percent of silver production taking place at non-silver mines.

This production downturn was the result of COVID-19 restrictions that forced mines to suspend operations temporarily. Silver mine closures hit certain places harder than others, with extended closures in top silver-producing countries such as Peru, Mexico, Argentina and Bolivia causing major production drops.

Australia, however, was an exception to this rule, with production increasing by 3 percent. The reason for Australia's success is that it remained relatively untouched by COVID-19 restrictions. While other countries were forced to shut down production facilities, Australia was able to avoid these closures, continuing — and even upgrading — regular operations.

Australia is now the fifth largest silver producer globally, with an annual output of 43.8 million ounces in 2020. While the output of silver-mining giants such as Mexico and Peru (178.1 million and 109.7 million ounces produced in 2020, respectively) continues to far exceed that of Australia, global demand for silver is on the rise, hitting 900 million ounces annually and making room for a new silver-mining powerhouse.

What should investors know about silver investing in Australia?

Silver remains a relatively untapped resource in Australia, which means that investors have plenty of major mining companies to choose from.

Australia's largest mine is the Cannington mine owned by South32 (ASX:S32,OTC Pink:SHTLF). It is ranked as the ninth largest silver-producing mine worldwide, with 11.6 million ounces produced in 2020.

The country's second biggest silver-producing mine is the Mount Isa zinc mine. It is owned by Mount Isa Mines, a subsidiary of Glencore (LSE:GLEN,OTC Pink:GLCNF), and produced around 5.8 million ounces of silver in 2020. The Tritton copper mine, owned by Aeris Resources (ASX:AIS,OTC Pink:ARSRF), followed closely behind with nearly 4.5 million ounces produced in the same year.

Other notable Australian silver mines include the Golden Grove mine, which is owned by 29Metals (ASX:29M), and the Dugald River mine, which is owned by Metallic Minerals (ASX:MMG,TSXV:MMG,OTCQB:MMNGF). In 2020, these mines produced around 2.9 million and 2 million ounces of silver, respectively.

Australia's impressive silver-mining industry is well-positioned for further expansion, with Silver Mines (ASX:SVL,OTC Pink:SLVMF) planning to launch its Bowden silver project in 2023. This New South Wales-based silver mine is projected to produce around 6 million ounces of silver annually, which would make it the country's new second largest producer. The company hopes to capitalise on the promising solar panel market, which currently accounts for about 5.5 percent of all silver demand worldwide.

Moreover, Australian company Thomson Resources (ASX:TMZ,OTC Pink:TMZRF) bought the New South Wales-based Webb and Conrad silver projects from Silver Mines earlier this year in a transaction worth around US$8.6 million. The deal closed on March 31, and will enable Silver Mines to concentrate on its flagship Bowden project.

Investing in silver in Australia

There are many ways to invest in silver, including physical silver, stocks, exchange-traded funds (ETFs), mutual funds, options and futures. Choosing which investment route to take is all about balancing risk and reward.

Investing in physical silver is the most straightforward option: you simply buy a tangible piece of the precious metal in the form of bullion, official coins or medallions. Bullion is a bar or 1 ounce coin of solid silver with at least 99.9 percent purity. Official silver coins are currency produced by a government mint, while silver medallions resemble coins, but lack monetary value, .

The price of physical silver rises and falls alongside the metal's market value. Physical silver is a relatively safe investment, since its value can't be affected by third-party interference or bad business practices (risks characteristic of mining stocks). However, if you plan to trade often, the added costs of buying, selling and storing physical silver may make the investment not worth your while.

Investments in physical silver rose by 8 percent last year, boosted by silver's status as a safe asset and market bullishness on gold. In Australia, coins and medals fabrication increased by 35 percent year-over-year, making physical silver a smart choice for any risk-averse investor.

Of course, low risk often means low reward. If you're looking for a bigger payday, consider investing in silver-mining stocks instead. After all, when silver's market price goes up, it is often the case that the value of a mining stock could spike far higher than that of the physical metal. The disadvantage is that mining stocks are always risky — even when the silver market is strong, a mining endeavour can fail to pan out.

ETFs offer investors the best of both worlds. ETFs are a basket of varied equities, including physical metals and shares in mining companies. Much like individual stocks, they are liable to rise or fall in price according to the market, though they tend to be less risky than stocks.

In 2020, ETF investments were at an all-time-high, though Australia only has one silver ETF that includes the physical precious metal. Stocks are a much more common means of investing in silver in Australia. The country boasts over a dozen silver-mining companies, including South32 and Silver Mines, as well as Newcrest Mining (ASX:NCM,TSX:NCM,OTC Pink:NCMGF), Golden Deeps (ASX:GED) and Investigator Resources (ASX:IVR).

Don't forget to follow us @INN_Australia for real-time news updates.

Securities Disclosure: I, Isabel Armiento, hold no direct investment interest in any company mentioned in this article.

carbon emissions

Following international pressure, the Australian government has promised to reach net zero emissions by 2050.

In a last-minute commitment after months of debate, the Australian government has promised to reach net zero emissions by 2050, expecting to meet the goal largely through technology development.

The move comes following international pressure as Australia had previously refused to join countries in pledging to meet the target ahead of the United Nations' COP26 climate conference in Glasgow.

However, the plan unveiled on Tuesday (October 26), which includes a government investment of AU$20 billion, does not strengthen the target set for 2030, with Prime Minister Scott Morrison saying Australia is on track to beat its Paris Agreement goal, cutting emissions by 30 to 35 percent by that decade.


"We will do this the Australian way," Morrison said ahead of a press conference, announcing investments in new energy technologies like hydrogen and low-cost solar.

An Australian hydrogen industry could be worth more than AU$50 billion in 2050, according to the government. Meanwhile, expanding production and processing of metals like lithium, nickel, copper and uranium could together be worth around AU$85 billion in exports in 2050.

That said, Australia will continue to be heavily dependent on fossil fuels as the plan will not shut down coal or gas production. The country is a major coal player, with the third largest reserves in the world, but its reliance on coal-fired power makes it one of the world's largest carbon emitters per capita.

"We want our heavy industries, like mining, to stay open, remain competitive and adapt, so they remain viable for as long as global demand allows," Morrison said. "We will not support any mandate — domestic or international — to force closure of our resources or agricultural industries."

Australia's desire to achieve net zero emissions by 2050 is a step in the right direction, Prakash Sharma, Wood Mackenzie's Asia Pacific head of markets and transitions, said.

"Our analysis shows that Australia can reach net zero emissions by 2050," he said. The country's major trading partners — China, Japan and South Korea — are already in transition towards that goal.

According to Wood Mackenzie, nearly 83 percent of Australia's power generation will come from solar and wind by 2050, as compared to about 20 percent last year. Natural gas, bio energy, geothermal and small modular reactors will supply the remaining 17 percent in power output. Coal into power is expected to be phased out by 2035.

"Although the pathway requires complete transformation of its traditional energy and export sectors, there are significant opportunities to capitalise on and protect future revenues," Sharma said.

"This will require Australia to become a significant player in low-carbon hydrogen trade as well as being able to offer carbon storage and offset services."

Meanwhile, the Australian Conservation Foundation has welcomed the prime minister's commitment to reach net zero by 2050, but said the mid-century goal is only meaningful with deep cuts to climate pollution this decade.

"Unless the government sets the wheels in motion to cut our emissions in half by 2030, it is making climate change worse and turning its back on the opportunities," said Chief Executive Kelly O'Shanassy.

"Australia can become a global clean energy superpower in the next decade by replacing coal and gas with renewable energy," she added. "We have abundant clean energy, tools and talent, but we cannot delay any longer."

Don't forget to follow us @INN_Australia for real-time updates!

Securities Disclosure: I, Priscila Barrera, hold no direct investment interest in any company mentioned in this article.