You are here

Access to medicinal cannabis products: using access schemes

10 February 2020

Determine your state/territory regulatory requirements

In most states and territories in Australia, approval or permission is required by a medical practitioner in order to prescribe medicinal cannabis products to their patient(s).

Additionally, particular medicinal cannabis products may be scheduled differently under the Schedule of Medicines and Poisons (SUSMP or 'Poisons Standard'). The adoption of the SUSMP may vary between different states and territories.

The medical practitioner should check for any relevant state/territory approvals to prescribe a particular medicinal cannabis product for the particular patient, noting that these may vary depending on the scheduling and between jurisdictions.

Contact the relevant state or territory medicinal cannabis area in your state or territory health department for further information.

Contact details for each Australian state for information on Medicinal cannabis
State Phone Email Website
ACT 02 6205 0998 ACT Health
NSW 02 9391 9944 (medical practitioners only)

NSW Health

Northern Territory 08 8999 2633

Phone: 07 3708 5283

Fax: 07 3708 5431 Queensland Government
South Australia 1300 652 584 (medical practitioners only) SA Health
Tasmania 03 6166 0400 Department of Health and Human Services

03 9069 7768

1300 364 545 (medical practitioners only) (medical practitioners only)

Western Australia 08 9222 6883

Overview: Government of Western Australia

Medicines and Poisons Regulation Branch: Government of Western Australia

Submit an application or notification under the Special Access Scheme or an application under the Authorised Prescriber Scheme

Medical practitioners applying to access medicinal cannabis products for their patients should review Special Access Scheme (SAS) and Authorised Prescriber web pages to assist in the application/notification processes.

As of 30 July 2018 an online system was introduced to enable the lodgement of SAS applications and notifications through an online system. The TGA has been working in collaboration with the State and Territory Health Departments to streamline the application processes pertaining to the prescription of and subsequent access to unapproved medicinal cannabis products in Australia.

The SAS online system will allow prescribers in certain States and Territories to submit an application to both the TGA and the relevant State/Territory Health Department simultaneously. Prior to the introduction of this system, prescribers of unapproved medicinal cannabis products were required to complete and submit papers forms to the TGA and relevant State Health Department separately.

Further information on the SAS online system and details on the submission of medicinal cannabis applications can be found at: Special Access Scheme (SAS).

Medical practitioners notifying the TGA through SAS (Category A) or applying to the TGA to access medicinal cannabis products for their patients under the SAS (Category B) or the Authorised Prescriber Scheme must provide information to satisfy the criteria around the patient, product and prescriber. This is consistent with the principles described in the guidelines Access to unapproved therapeutic goods via the Special Access Scheme and Access to unapproved therapeutic goods: Authorised prescribers, respectively.

Devices to administer certain medicinal cannabis products

For products to be administered via inhalation through a vaporising device, a variety of vaporising technologies are on the market. However, the majority of these are not indicated for therapeutic use. If vaporised cannabis is to be used, it is recommended that the device selected has been studied in a research setting and found to be safe and effective.

It should be noted that if a medicinal cannabis product for inhalation is approved or authorised under the SAS Category B or the Authorised Prescriber Scheme, this approval would be conditional on use with an appropriate medical device.

Apply for a licence and permission to import, if necessary

Cannabis, cannabis resin, extracts, oils and tinctures of cannabis, and cannabinoids (including cannabidiol and tetrahydrocannabinols) are captured under the Customs (Prohibited Imports) Regulations 1956. A licence and permission to import is required prior to importing any product containing these substances.

The Office of Drug Control (ODC) hosts a list of manufacturers and suppliers of medicinal cannabis products on its website. Some suppliers may have stock available in Australia removing the need for the medical practitioner, or pharmacist acting on behalf of the medical practitioner to arrange for import. Please see the ODC website for more information.

If a medicinal cannabis product has not already been imported by the sponsor, a medical practitioner, or pharmacist acting on behalf of the medical practitioner, can apply for a licence and permission to import.

Licence and permit application forms and guidance are available on the ODC website.

Please contact the ODC for further information regarding the application process. Contact details are available from Import and export of controlled substances.