On February 1, over-the-counter sales of CBD products became legal in Australia after the country’s Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) adjusted the schedule in December. Products have yet to be approved by the TGA and listed on the Australian Register of Therapeutic Goods (ARTG). The daily dose must not exceed 150 mg.
At the time of the TGA’s announcement, there were no CBD products that met the criteria for over-the-counter sales, although the TGA’s announcement was expected to increase the number of applications for inclusion in the ARTG. Currently only one cannabis product (Nabiximole) is approved by the TGA. However, unapproved products can still be obtained with a doctor’s prescription, and so can products containing THC.
The regulation of medical cannabis varies by state or territory. In Tasmania, for example, a doctor is only allowed to prescribe cannabis if conventional treatment has failed, a restriction that does not exist in other Australian jurisdictions.
As for recreational cannabis, the legal framework is generally prohibited across the country. The most liberal regime can be found in the Australian Capital Territory (ACT), where it is allowed to own up to 50 grams of dried cannabis or up to 150 grams of fresh cannabis. In addition, growing up to two cannabis plants at home with a maximum of four plants per household is permitted. However, even these relatively modest permissions are in violation of Australian federal law (Americans: Does that sound like you?).
The ACT is smaller and less populated than any of the six Australian states. So we shouldn’t expect her to be a legal trendsetter. Instead, one of the larger states is likely to take a step to unleash a wave of legalization like the one we are seeing in the US.
It doesn’t seem like New South Wales (NSW) will give the spark, at least not until the next elections in 2023. NSW Prime Minister Gladys Berejiklian said she was “happy with the laws where they are” and suggested that states like Colorado are the “unfortunate” legalization (which we should be aware of contradicts the views of Colorado Governor Jared Polis on the matter).
Things look a little more promising in Victoria, where Prime Minister Dan Andrews is optimistic about the state’s medicinal cannabis industry. (That being said, we love the pictures of Andrews attending a Victorian Growth.) As early as 2014, Andrews spoke out against legalizing recreational cannabis, but as far as we can tell, he hasn’t made any similar comments in recent years. And as we often emphasize on these pages, a few years are an eternity when it comes to cannabis policy. Victoria will hold elections next year: will a fourth term from Andrews mark a major turning point for cannabis in Vic and Australia? (Aussies: We’d love to hear your thoughts on this.)
With an Australian attorney on our international cannabis team, we will certainly keep an eye on legal developments Down Under. The prospect of recreational cannabis legalization, even in some Australian states, is exciting – but cannabis companies in the US and elsewhere shouldn’t wait for it to look for opportunities.
As it is, the continent represents a CBD and medicinal cannabis market with more than 25 million people. In addition to the federal, eight regulatory frameworks must be dealt with for access to the entire market. Note, however, that there are approximately 15 million residents between NSW and Victoria. Add Queensland and that number climbs to 20 million, more than any other American state except California, Texas and Florida.
Yes, we are trying to seduce you.