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 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 . The five-product RAF FIVE ™ line consists of the Wash Away Gel Cleanser Acne Treatment, Spot On Acne Treatment, Kick Off Hydrating Lotion …

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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Highlights: Peak Processing Solutions subsidiary of Althea Group Holdings has entered into agreements with BBCCC, Inc., The Boston Beer Company and WeedMD Rx Inc., a subsidiary of Entourage Health Corp. 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 …

Highlights:

  • 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

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physical coin representing bitcoin

A Canadian fund provider is debuting a version of its popular bitcoin ETF in Australia. Is now the best time for this launch?

Australian investors are getting a new way to invest in the volatile bitcoin space thanks to a deal between an asset management company and a Canadian fund provider.

On May 12, Canadian fund maker Purpose Investments launched a version of its bitcoin exchange-traded fund (ETF) in the Australian market by way of a partnership with Cosmos Asset Management, which is owned in part by the Australian division of Mawson Infrastructure Group (NASDAQ:MIGI).

The fund, called the Cosmos-Purpose Bitcoin Access ETF (CXA:CBTC), is listed on the Cboe Australia exchange, and holds units of the Toronto-based Purpose Bitcoin ETF (TSX:BTCC).


“We have brought together a team of global experts to offer Australian investors access to a truly high-quality product,” Dan Annan, Cosmos Asset Management CEO, said in a statement to investors.

ETF maker pursues rising international interest in cryptocurrencies

In an interview with the Investing News Network (INN), Vlad Tasevski, chief operating officer and head of product at Purpose Investments, said the firm has been actively pursuing ways to offer its crypto funds internationally.

The executive said there has been widespread interest in BTCC since its launch back in February of last year.

As the firm began evaluating how to approach this demand, the company considered setting up shop in the Australian market, Tasevski said. However, eventually the Canadian fund provider went with the partnership route.

Tasevski called Australia “the next logical jurisdiction" for the firm as it expands with its crypto funds.

When asked what makes Australia so attractive for the expansion of BTCC, the executive said it has a similar market structure to Canada, and credited securities regulators in the nation for being more comfortable with cryptocurrency listings than other jurisdictions.

Purpose has strong long-term outlook for digital assets

Although crypto assets are facing a serious ongoing downturn in value that has created significant losses, Tasevski told INN that Purpose Investments is undeterred in its long-term crypto outlook.

“The amount of capital and the amount of people involved in the space has never been higher,” Tasevski said.

The executive said he views his company's offerings as very flexible for investors. “We'll be here for (investors) to actually give them the ability to very easily access it whenever they feel it is appropriate for them,” he said.

Tasevski added that he views the current downturn for bitcoin as “one of the best entry opportunities in the last year and a half.”

​As bitcoin struggles, ETF firm celebrates structural victory

Purpose Investments has suggested to investors that accessing the bitcoin market through its funds is a safer route than going it alone, especially given the current period of remarkable losses.

According to Tasevski, the firm's products offer liquidity to investors and provide a measured approach for people who want exposure in this segment.

“We have been very clear that this is a volatile asset class,” he told INN. “And investors should kind of understand the level of volatility that they will be taking on.”

The investment executive said the infrastructure security provided by the rules ETFs must follow has been a boon as the crypto space faces major volatility.

Even so, BTCC has been rocked in 2022 based on the performance of bitcoin. Over a year-to-date period, the fund had gone down in value by over 35 percent as of the closing bell in Canada on May 11. In the past month alone, BTCC has dropped in value by over 20 percent.

Som Seif, founder and CEO of Purpose Investments, recently said crypto is a “core component” for the firm “when solving problems for (its) customers.”

​Investor takeaway

Digital assets have never been more easily available as tools for all types of investors.

While many experts remain confident in the long-term outlook for bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies, the considerable volatility prevailing in the market can make the space difficult for newcomers to stomach.

So far in 2022, bitcoin losses have highlighted the lack of stability in digital coins — but of course, as some have argued, these big moves can also provide entry points and opportunities for savvy investors.

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

Securities Disclosure: I, Bryan Mc Govern, hold no direct investment interest in any company mentioned in this article.

Editorial Disclosure: The Investing News Network does not guarantee the accuracy or thoroughness of the information reported in the interviews it conducts. The opinions expressed in these interviews do not reflect the opinions of the Investing News Network and do not constitute investment advice. All readers are encouraged to perform their own due diligence.

European Lithium Executive Chairman Tony Sage

European Lithium Executive Chairman Tony Sage said, “There's not one hydroxide plant in Europe, so we hope to be the first. Not only would we be able to source material from our own mine, but we may be able to source material in nearby areas.”

European Lithium Executive Chairman Tony Sage: Developing the 1st Lithium Hydroxide Plant in Europe youtu.be


European Lithium (ASX:EUR,FWB:PF8) Executive Chairman Tony Sage discussed the company’s Wolfsburg project in Austria, a country with a rich mining history dating back to WWII that maintains its infrastructure.

Wolfsburg continues that tradition, positioned only 45 kilometres from the city that hosts the largest Samsung battery factory.

"It’s quite unique. In Europe, a lot of the lithium mines are at the exploration stage," Sage said. "This mine was built back in the '80s by the Austrian government. So all the work has been done. If we were going to do this project today, we would have to get environmental approval and spend about $100 million — but they did all the work and the licence is in perpetuity.


“We can now access that mine and start mining immediately. In fact, in 2017, we mined it and took out 1,500 tonnes, which is a massive advantage in the lithium industry because we were able to build a pilot plant and put 300 tonnes of the material through the pilot plant, which gave us the results that we were looking for in that it's high-grade product.”

Sage also discussed European Lithium’s goals with the project. “Our aim is to mine it. It's a very simple mining process. We're in the process now of trying to acquire land nearby so we can actually put a conversion plant and a hydroxide plant on it. There's not one hydroxide plant in Europe, so we hope to be the first. Not only would we be able to source material from our own mine, but we may be able to source material in nearby areas.”

Sage told the Investing News Network that the government is supportive of its endeavours. “The Austrian government is very keen for us to build hydroxide plants so they can actually entice vehicle companies to build a factory nearby the hydroxide plant. This way, we can have a mine right through to the battery solution for the Austrian government. In the end, all we can do is get the mines up and operating, build the hydroxide plant and see what happens.”

The mine itself is underground. “Underground mining techniques are used all around the world. When they built it, they actually overbuilt — so when we decided to mine back in 2017, it was quite easy for us to find the seam of the orebody and then take the ore out," Sage said.

“We completed a prefeasibility study in 2018. The cost structure then was about US$7,500 per tonne to produce the hydroxide. Right now, the hydroxide price is around US$69,000 a tonne — that’s a massive profit margin that we don’t see as sustainable long term. When we do our definitive feasibility study, we're probably going to use an average price over the life of mine of about US$25,000 — but that's still a huge profit margin. That feasibility study is coming within the next four months, when we’ll be in a good position to partner with someone.”

Watch the full interview of European Lithium Executive Chairman Tony Sage above.

Disclaimer: This interview is sponsored by European Lithium (ASX:EUR,FWB:PF8). This interview provides information that was sourced by the Investing News Network (INN) and approved by European Lithium in order to help investors learn more about the company. European Lithium is a client of INN. The company’s campaign fees pay for INN to create and update this interview.

INN does not provide investment advice and the information on this profile should not be considered a recommendation to buy or sell any security. INN does not endorse or recommend the business, products, services or securities of any company profiled.

The information contained here is for information purposes only and is not to be construed as an offer or solicitation for the sale or purchase of securities. Readers should conduct their own research for all information publicly available concerning the company. Prior to making any investment decision, it is recommended that readers consult directly with European Lithium and seek advice from a qualified investment advisor.

This interview may contain forward-looking statements including but not limited to comments regarding the timing and content of upcoming work programs, receipt of property titles, etc. Forward-looking statements address future events and conditions and therefore involve inherent risks and uncertainties. Actual results may differ materially from those currently anticipated in such statements. The issuer relies upon litigation protection for forward-looking statements. Investing in companies comes with uncertainties as market values can fluctuate.

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