The legalisation of medicinal marijuana in Australia is an evolutionary step in the progression of the health industry. America sparked this trend back in 1973 when the first American State, Oregon begun to liberalise cannabis through decriminalisation laws. In 1996, California was the first state to legalise the medical use of cannabis, leading to the legalisation of its recreational use in 2012 in the States of Colorado and Washington.
Unfortunately, Australia has not progressed far from their conservative views as quickly as America and even Canada. The inconsistency between Federal and State laws within Australia is increasing ever so rapidly, the frustration among members of the Australian community. In particular, the Federal government passed amendments to the Narcotic Drugs Act 1967 in 2016 that legalised the cultivation, production and manufacturing of medicinal cannabis products. However, its introduction did not come without limitations. There remains a strict regulatory framework that requires licences and permits for its cultivation, production and manufacture. This legislative scheme is administered by the Office of Drug Control and involves a rigorous application process. Despite coming into effect October last year, the first licence for private cultivation was only issued in early 2017. In NSW, such products will only be available to specific patient groups and must be sourced through an ‘authorised prescriber.’ Despite the Commonwealth establishing the authority to permit controlled cultivation of cannabis, the decriminalisation of possession and personal cultivation for compassionate or recreational purposes is strictly a matter for State and Territory governments. Victoria, Queensland, Western Australia and South Australia have decriminalised the use of cannabis for medicinal purposes and is legal through prescription by persons who suffer from conditions such as epilepsy, cancer, HIV/AIDS and MS. As for NSW, a Bill has recently been introduced into Parliament that seeks to establish a lawful supply chain and criminal immunity to registered users and carers.
If you want to put pressure on our NSW government to implement this Bill into legislation, please go to Joplin Lawyers Facebook page and participate in our opinion poll.
The production of industrial hemp is an untapped market, one which offers extraordinary health benefits to users of the products. Known as one of the eco-friendliest substances, hemp is becoming popular among ingredients such as seeds, flour, oil and protein powder. Often outsiders to this industry misconceive what hemp actually is, therefore, it is important to note its differentiation to cannabis. The defining compound in cannabis is tetrahydrocannabinol, commonly referred to as THC. THC is the physiologically active component of cannabis of which is not found in hemp. The Hemp Industry Act 2008 authorises and regulates the supply of low THC hemp for commercial production. Low THC hemp contains no more than 1% of the psycho-active chemical compound in its leaves and flowering heads from any plant of the genus Cannabis.
The current licencing scheme in NSW, regulated by the Department of Primary Industries (“DPI”) allows persons to grow low THC hemp crops for fibre and oil production while limiting the risk of law enforcement. It is a contravention of the Drug Misuse and Trafficking Act 1985 if you cultivate or supply the products without the specified licence. Licence applications are assessed by the DPI and only persons who successfully pass the ‘suitable persons’ tests will be considered for licence approval. You are required to disclose the nature of all the proposed activities you intend to undertake with your licence and the products you intend to produce.
Depending on the type of licence you desire, whether it be for the purposes of cultivation, manufacturing, commercial production, supply or scientific research, you will be required to provide specific details within your application. It is important you seek professional legal advice from legal practitioners that specialise in this area of law to ensure you understand the legalities surrounding the type of licence you desire and the requirements for the application process. Due diligence is the key to success.
Diverse business development opportunities exist in the production of industrial hemp. Call the team at Joplin Lawyers to begin the process of developing your business structure and increase the awareness of the uses and benefits of this sustainable product.
Join the Global Hemp Resurgence by becoming a member of the Industrial Hemp Association NSW.