Medicinal Cannabis

The ACT Medicinal Cannabis Scheme was established in 2016 to provide patients with safe and legal access to high quality medicinal cannabis products in appropriate circumstances.

Implementation of the ACT scheme followed the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) decision to list medicinal cannabis as a controlled (Schedule 8) medicine in the Commonwealth Poisons Standard.

Medicinal cannabis products can be prescribed as controlled medicines in the ACT for medicinal use, when they are either:

  • manufactured in Australia in accordance with the Australian Government Department of Health legislation
  • imported in accordance with a valid customs import licence issued by the Australian Government Department of Health.

All other forms of cannabis still face legal restrictions and cannot be prescribed. This includes a patient’s own cannabis for personal medicinal use and medicinal products manufactured outside of Australia.

Please contact the Pharmaceutical Services section of the ACT Health Protection Service on 02 5124 9442 for questions about medicinal cannabis.

Medicinal Cannabis Prescriber Approvals

In the ACT, prescribers must have approval from the ACT Chief Health Officer (CHO) and from the TGA to prescribe medicinal cannabis as a controlled medicine.

Prescribers may now apply for both ACT and TGA approvals to prescribe medicinal cannabis concurrently via the TGA’s online application pathway. This single online pathway has been developed to streamline the application process for prescribers and facilitate more timely patient access to medicinal cannabis products.

Applications can now be submitted through the TGA’s Special Access Scheme Application website. For more information about the Special Access Scheme, please visit the TGA website.

The TGA and ACT Health will each conduct their own evaluation processes on the information submitted via the online application system. It is important to note that as part of these evaluation processes, the TGA and ACT Health may contact the prescriber seeking further information in support of the application.

The TGA will evaluate the application under the requirements of the Therapeutic Goods Act 1989 and ACT Health will evaluate the application against the requirements of the ACT Controlled Medicines Prescribing Standards. Both the TGA and ACT Health must approve the application prior to a prescriber being permitted to prescribe medicinal cannabis.

Under the ACT Controlled Medicines Prescribing Standards, medicinal cannabis can be approved for patients with the following conditions:

  • spasticity in Multiple Sclerosis
  • nausea and vomiting from Cancer chemotherapy
  • pain and anxiety related to active malignancy from a life limiting disease with a prognosis of 12 months or less
  • refractory paediatric epilepsy

Applications will also be considered on a case by case basis for other conditions. ACT Health may refer these applications to the Medicinal Cannabis Medical Advisory Panel for advice.

Supply of Medicinal Cannabis

A pharmacist who receives a prescription for the supply of medicinal cannabis should contact the prescriber to discuss arrangements for obtaining medicinal cannabis for the patient.

An application to the TGA and the Office of Drug Control may be required to obtain medicinal cannabis.

Page last updated on: 13 Mar 2019