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growing weed in australia

Patients in Victoria who require medicinal cannabis products may obtain a prescription for a suitable product from their doctor if he or she considers it likely they will benefit from such a product. There is currently only on medicinal cannabis product which is approved for use in Australia, meaning that patients requiring other products which must be imported will have to obtain approvals from the Commonwealth Therapeutic Goods Administration and the Department of Health prior to these products being prescribed.

Victoria produced its first legal crop of cannabis in 2017, becoming the first Australian state to produce medicinal cannabis locally. The crop is being developed into a medication for use by children suffering from severe intractable epilepsy. Cannabis plant contains different compounds, cannabinoids and terpene, which have various different effects on the human body. Medicinal products can be manufactured from cannabis plant for use by individuals suffering from medical conditions such as MS, epilepsy, chronic pain, epilepsy and HIV.

Medicinal cannabis in Victoria

Cultivation can be carried out on a tiny scale, consisting of a single pot plant in someone’s home, or on a medium, large or huge scale, with plants harvested with the use of a sophisticated hydroponic system (‘cultivation by enhanced indoor means’, which forms a separate offence in some jurisdictions) or outside on a rural property.

Cultivating cannabis is an offence in all states and territories when it is done otherwise than under the Federal licencing scheme. In Victoria, it is an offence to cultivate or attempt to cultivate a narcotic plant under the Drugs, Poisons and Controlled Substances Act 1981 (Section 72B). Courts have interpreted the term ‘cultivation’ as including ‘all activities associated with production from the soil, including preparing the soil, sowing, fertilising, tending and caring for the plants, and finally harvesting the crop.’ (King CJ in R v Giogio and Romeo).

The offense of cultivating cannabis in Victoria

In Victoria, the maximum penalties for cultivating cannabis offences are as follows:

‘Cultivate’ is defined in the Act as including sowing or scattering cannabis seeds and planting, growing, tending or nurturing plants.

In New South Wales, there is a separate offence comprised of cultivating cannabis for commercial purposes using enhanced indoor means (such as a hydroponic system). For cultivating cannabis in this way, a person faces a maximum penalty of 15 years imprisonment if there were more than five plants cultivated. However, prosecution must prove that the plants were being grown for commercial purposes.

When a person grows cannabis otherwise than under the federal licensing scheme, he or she commits an offence. In New South Wales it is an offence to cultivate, supply or knowingly take part in the cultivation or supply of a prohibited plant (Section 23, Drug Misuse and Trafficking Act).

Medicinal Cannabis (Compassionate Access) Bill

The maximum penalty for cultivating cannabis is between 10 and 20 years imprisonment, depending on the quantity cultivated. Charges of cultivating cannabis where the number of plants is less than 250 can be dealt with in the Local Court, where the maximum penalty that can be imposed for a single offence is two years imprisonment. The maximum penalties that can be imposed by higher courts are set out below.

A bill to decriminalise the possession and use of cannabis for medical purposes is currently before the New South Wales Parliament.

The New South Wales government has established the Medicinal Cannabis Compassionate Use Scheme, which provides guidelines for the police to use their discretion not to lay charges against persons with terminal illness or their carers for possession of cannabis. The scheme does not provide or endorse the use of cannabis that is not lawfully prescribed.

The offence of cultivating cannabis

A person who is over 18 and has a terminal illness can register for the scheme with verification by a medical practitioner that they have a terminal illness as defined under the scheme. They may nominate up to three persons as carers.

In 2006, the federal government legalised the cultivation of cannabis with a licence for medicinal purposes. It is now legal to grow marijuana in Australia when you are licenced to do so and under strict controls. However, cultivating cannabis without a licence remains a serious offence in all states and territories. In New South Wales, cannabis offences are governed by the Drug Misuse and Trafficking Act.