The Turnbull Government has today introduced important legislation to ensure security and law and order is maintained, as the Coalition leads the way in allowing for the cultivation of a safe, legal and reliable local supply of cannabis for medicinal products.

Minister Sussan Ley said the amendments to the Narcotic Drugs Act would enable the safe and legal distribution of cannabis products for medicinal use for painful and chronic conditions, by giving law enforcement agencies the confidence to provide sensitive information to the Commonwealth to assess the suitability of applicants to cultivate cannabis for medicinal purposes. 

This important amendment is aimed at enshrining a respectful and mutual partnership between law enforcement agencies and Commonwealth health authorities as part of the transformational and ground-breaking medicinal cannabis framework.

The amendments would also ensure that the cultivation of cannabis for medicinal purposes is in accordance with Australia’s international obligations under the Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs.

“It’s vital that the cannabis grown under license through this Government-sanctioned scheme, which delivers the ‘missing piece’ for Australian patients and their doctors to manage chronic and painful conditions isn’t diverted for illicit uses,” Minister Ley said.

“We need to exclude people who look at the cannabis cultivation scheme as a way to profit from diverting cannabis to the black market. This outcome can only be achieved if we work closely with law enforcement agencies to ensure appropriate legal safeguards are in place, so that the risks of criminal involvement in cannabis cultivation are minimised.

“Allowing the cultivation of legal medicinal cannabis crops in Australia under strict controls strikes the right balance between patient access, community protection and our international obligations.

“Allowing cultivation of cannabis for the treatment of very sick people, including children, is an important step. It is part of the Government’s commitment to improving health outcomes through world-class scientific research and innovative treatment approaches.

“We want to see this scheme become a success for the patients who want to access this medicine, but for that to happen protections need to be implemented to ensure those cultivating the medicinal cannabis are subject to strict ‘fit and proper persons’ requirements to ensure they are suitable to participate in this industry.”

The cost of issuing licenses and of official inspections to ensure compliance will be funded by annual charges on licence holders.

Medicinal cannabis treatment starts on 30 October 2016.