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Travelling Through Australia With Medical Marijuana?

Travelling Through Australia With Medical Marijuana?

How to travel between states with medical marijuana? Cannabis is legal across Australia, but here's what you need to know when travelling with weed in Australia.


Do you live in Australia and wonder if you can domestically & internationally travel through the country with medical cannabis? Cannabis Place takes a deeper look into how patients can travel between Australia’s six states and in & out of the country with marijuana.

Although the Australian government has approved the use of medical cannabis for more than three years ago, the legal framework is still in a complicated grey area, particularly with Canberra’s new legislation of recreational cannabis to come to affect this year. Patients must research state and territory government regulations that apply differently from state to state, and what different modes of transport that are affected.

Travelling with medicinal cannabis can be frightening, due to the amount of uncertainty many patients have to face in ensuring they are following the law and their safety in general public including airports, shipping terminals, bus, and train stations.

Planning ahead of your trip will help you guide yourself across borders smoothly.

Talk To Your Medical Practitioner

In order to bring any medical cannabinoid products into and out of Australia for personal use, you will need a ‘Travellers Exemption’. Obtaining a prescription from your doctor can confirm the medicines you are carrying have been prescribed to you.

A letter from your doctor can also suffice if it states that you are under their treatment, the medication(s) you are carrying have been prescribed only for you, and it must specify the name of the medicine and dosage. You can bring 3 months’ supply of medicine into Australia.

Doctors Appointment
Doctors Appointment

While declaring all medication to the Australian Border Force, you must also ensure that the medication remains in its original packaging with the dispensing label intact to identify each substance at the border.

The Australian Border Force needs to be able to identify what the substances are, so that they can determine if the products are subject to any import restrictions.

If you are a patient in the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (A government program that provides subsidised prescription drugs to residents of Australia), the Department of Human Services Travelling with PBS medicines web page provides a template letter you can give to your doctor.

Transiting Between Countries Can Be Very Dangerous

Currently it is extremely difficult to carry medical cannabis while flying internationally although it has been prescribed by your doctor, as it remains a restricted product in most countries.

Make sure that when you are transiting in another country to check their regulations about carrying medical cannabis.

Some countries, such as the United Arab Emirates, have extremely strict laws that considers cannabis in any form as a psychotropic substance with high potential for abuse and as a dangerous drug.

If caught in possession of cannabis, there are significant jail terms and heavy penalty fines.

Police
Police

The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade has a list of Foreign embassies and consulates in Australia. It is vital to contact the local government authority to check their legislation on carrying medical cannabis.

What’s also important is to get permission in writing from them to carry with you as you enter the country. There are some countries that despite having legal cannabis federally, they still will not allow cannabis from another country even with it was prescribed legally.

Carrying medicinal cannabis interstate when travelling by aeroplane has not been tested in a court of law.

However, it is generally accepted that medicinal cannabis, as a prescribed medication in the original packaging, will be exempt from confiscation and prosecution for patients travelling between states, but this does not qualify when travelling by train.

Research The Different Regulations of Possession Between State and Territory Governments

There are six states in Australia and two territories:

  • New South Wales (NSW)
  • Queensland (Qld)
  • South Australia (SA)
  • Tasmania (Tas)
  • Victoria (Vic)
  • Western Australia (WA)
  • Australian Capital Territory (ACT)
  • Northern Territory (NT)
Map Of Australia
Map Of Australia

Each Australian state and territory has specific requirements about which patients who can carry restricted medications across borders. Under the legislative instrument Standard for the Uniform Scheduling of Medicines and Poisons (SUSMP), that classifies drugs into different Schedules to signify the degree of control available to the public, most medical cannabis products are under:

  • Schedule 4: prescription only medicine
  • Schedule 8: controlled drug.

Australian Capital Territory (ACT)

The cannabis laws are changing in the ACT with the decriminalisation of cannabis, however, medical prescription laws for CBD and THC oils are still in place. 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

There are official services available in the ACT to find out more information.

   
Organisation: ACT Health: Pharmaceutical Services
Phone: 02 6205 0998
Website: https://www.health.act.gov.au

New South Wales (NSW)

NSW Authority under the Poisons and Therapeutic Goods Act 1966 or the Poisons and Therapeutic Goods Regulation 2008 is required when prescribing or supplying a Schedule 8 medicine:

  • to a drug dependent person (for a registered or unregistered medicine)
  • that is compounded
  • for use in a clinical trial (if unregistered).

The cannabis medicine Sativex® (nabiximols) is plant-derived, and is the only cannabis medicine currently registered in Australia on the ARTG, approved for the treatment of moderate to severe spasticity in multiple sclerosis.

There are official services available in the NSW to find out more information.

   
Organisation: NSW Health: Cannabis Medicines
Phone: 02 9391 9944 (medical practitioners only)
Website: https://www.health.nsw.gov.au/

Northern Territory (NT)

A patient living in the Northern Territory must access medicines containing cannabinoids through a Northern Territory doctor who is authorised under the Special Access or Authorised Prescriber Schemes administered by the Therapeutic Goods Administration.

There are official services available in the NT to find out more information.

   
Organisation: NT Health: Schedule 8 Medicines
Phone: 08 8999 2633
Website: https://health.nt.gov.au/

Queensland (QLD)

Sativex is currently the only medicinal cannabis product registered in the Australian Register of Therapeutic Goods (ARTG)—it is registered for use in spasticity associated with Multiple Sclerosis (Australia). In some other countries it is used for the management of advanced cancer pain e.g. Canada.

In Queensland specialist medical practitioners (including specialist general practitioners) are able to prescribe Sativex without requiring an approval from the state or the TGA.

There are official services available in the QLD to find out more information.

   
Organisation: QLD Health: Medicinal Cannabis
Phone: 07 3708 5283
Website: https://www.health.qld.gov.au

South Australia (SA)

The South Australian Controlled Substances Act 1984 regulates the prescribing and supply of medicines in South Australia and applies to medicinal cannabis products.

A section 18A authority to prescribe a medicinal cannabis product that is a Schedule 8 controlled drug (drug of dependence) is required:

  • after 2 months of treatment or before commencing treatment where the person has already been prescribed a Schedule 8 drug for a period exceeding 2 months
  • before commencing treatment for any person the medical practitioner reasonably believes to be dependent on drugs.

There are official services available in the SA to find out more information.

   
Organisation: SA Health: Medicinal Cannabis
Phone: 1300 652 584 (medical practitioners only)
Website: https://www.sahealth.sa.gov.au

Tasmania (TAS)

The Tasmanian Government has developed a medical cannabis controlled access scheme (CAS). The scheme allows relevant medical specialists to be authorised to prescribe medical cannabis (unregistered cannabinoid products) in limited circumstances where conventional treatment has been unsuccessful.

If your GP considers that conventional treatment has failed and an unregistered cannabinoid product may help, they will refer you to a relevant medical specialist.

If the specialist also considers an unregistered cannabinoid product is clinically appropriate and indicated for your medical condition, they may apply for a legal authorisation from the Department of Health to prescribe the product for you.

There are additional requirements for cannabidiol products which apply, even when in Schedule 4.You will need to sign a consent form acknowledging and accepting the risks of using an unregistered product.

There are official services available in the TAS to find out more information.

   
Organisation: TAS Health: Medical Cannabis Scheme
Phone: 03 6166 0400
Website: https://www.dhhs.tas.gov.au

Victoria (VIC)

In Victoria, any registered medical practitioner is able to prescribe medicinal cannabis for any patient with any condition, if they believe it is clinically appropriate and have obtained the required Commonwealth and/or state approvals.

From April 2020, it will be mandatory for doctors and pharmacists to check SafeScript when writing or dispensing a prescription for schedule 8 medicines and certain schedule 4 medicines, including some medicinal cannabis products.

There are official services available in the VIC to find out more information.

   
Organisation: VIC Health: Medicinal Cannabis
Phone: 1300 364 545 (medical practitioners only)
Website: https://www2.health.vic.gov.au

Western Australia (WA)

In Western Australia (WA), the prescribing and supply of all medicinal cannabis products must comply with the Medicines and Poisons legislation, in the same way as other S4 and S8 medicines. All cannabis for medicinal use must be prescribed by a medical practitioner.

Patients cannot import medicinal cannabis products for their own use. This includes products that contain THC and products that contain cannabidiol only (often described as CBD Oil).

There are official services available in the VIC to find out more information.

   
Organisation: WA Health: Medicinal Cannabis
Phone: 08 9222 6883
Website: https://ww2.health.wa.gov.au/

Stay Calm

There are ways to bring your medical cannabis without getting yourself in trouble as long as you bring the right documents and have done your research, keep you head low, and to stay calm. Happy travelling!

References:

Disclaimer: This topic may represent illegal activity in certain regions. We do not encourage illegal activity. We understand that readers in locations where cannabis has been legalised may read these articles.