Medicinal cannabis information for patients and the general public
- Most medicines prescribed in Australia are approved by the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) to be included on the Australian Register of Therapeutic Goods (ARTG).
- Medicines are only listed on the ARTG when the TGA is satisfied with the medicine’s evidence of quality, safety and efficacy.
- Medicines that the TGA has either not assessed, or that have insufficient evidence of quality, safety and efficacy are known as ‘unregistered’ medicines.
- Each Australian State and Territory has their own poisons legislation outlining certain controls for the supply of certain classes of medicines including ‘prescription only’ medicines. In Tasmania, this is the Poisons Act 1971 and Poisons Regulations 2018.
- Scientific literature supporting the use of medicinal cannabis to treat a range of conditions is limited. The role of medicinal cannabis will become clearer as additional research is published and the evidence base expands. The TGA has published information for patients on the evidence for use of medicinal cannabis.
Unregistered medicinal cannabis products
Unregistered medicinal cannabis products are lawfully manufactured and prescribed for a therapeutic purpose. They are either derived from legally cultivated cannabis plants or synthetically made cannabinoid substances. There are many naturally occurring cannabinoids found in the cannabis plant including:
- tetrahydrocannabinol (THC)
- cannabidiol (CBD).
Visit the TGA website for patient information about the evidence of use for medicinal cannabis.
How to access medicinal cannabis in Tasmania
Your treating medical practitioner is well placed to discuss with you or your carer the risks and benefits of unregistered medicinal cannabis and to explain the available evidence for use.
After you discuss with your prescriber the risks and benefits of unregistered medicinal cannabis and the available evidence for use, your prescriber may prescribe an unregistered medicinal cannabis product to a patient in Tasmania if the prescriber:
- believes it is clinically appropriate
- has obtained the required Commonwealth approval, and State authorisation (for narcotic Schedule 8 products).
Issuing a prescription for medicinal cannabis
- Once the required approval and authorisation are obtained, your prescriber may issue a prescription.
- A valid prescription for medicinal cannabis may be legally dispensed at any pharmacy in Tasmania.
- For some medicinal cannabis medicines containing THC to be legally dispensed, your prescriber must be present and practising in Tasmania when issuing the prescription.
Cost of purchasing medicinal cannabis
- Unregistered medicinal cannabis products are not listed on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) so patients must pay the cost of purchasing the product.
- The Tasmanian Government does not regulate prices for unregistered medicinal cannabis products supplied in the community setting.
- The cost of these products will depend on the product, supplier, shipping expenses, customs fees and pharmacy dispensing fees.
- Individual suppliers may be able to provide an indication of cost.
Subsidised access to medicinal cannabis
- Subsidised access is available for unregistered medicinal cannabis to Tasmanians with a serious illness that has not responded to conventional therapies.
- Tasmania is the only Australian jurisdiction subsidising access to unregistered medicinal cannabis products.
- The subsidy is available where all reasonable evidence-based therapeutic options have been trialled and shown to be ineffective or inappropriate prior to approving the prescription of these products.
- It must be prescribed through the Tasmanian Health Service’s relevant medical specialist pathway.
Medicinal cannabis and driving
- Medicinal cannabis can cause impairment and affect fitness to drive.
- It is recommended that patients do not drive whilst being treated with medicinal cannabis.
- A person who drives a vehicle while under the influence of a drug to the extent that the person is incapable of having proper control of the vehicle is guilty of an offence (even if the drug is prescribed).
- THC is the main psychoactive substance in cannabis and is present in some medicinal cannabis products.
- Driving with any detectable amount of THC in your system is an offence in Tasmania unless the product was obtained and administered in accordance with the Poisons Act 1971.
Illegal possession and use of cannabis
- Medicinal cannabis possession is lawful when the cultivation, manufacture, prescribing, supply and use complies with all applicable Commonwealth and State laws.
- Tasmanians cannot legally produce their own cannabis for medicinal or recreational use.
- Personal import of medicinal cannabis products is not permitted except through the traveller’s exemption process. Please visit the TGA website for information.
Travelling to Tasmania with medicinal cannabis
- Each Australian state or territory has their own requirements under their poisons legislation.
- Interstate visitors lawfully prescribed and dispensed a medicinal cannabis product in their home state can travel with that product in Tasmania.
- Travellers entering Australia should refer to the TGA website for advice on the legal requirements for medicinal cannabis importation and the traveller’s exemption process.
Where to find more information
Further information for patients and carers is available from: