What are Queensland’s Medicinal Cannabis Laws?

There is a lot of confusion about whether cannabis, or marijuana, are legal in Queensland. Recent changes to the law, which allow consumption of cannabis for medicinal purposes, have made this a tricky topic.

If you get it wrong, and you’re found to be in breach of the law, you may need the help of an experienced drug lawyer in Brisbane.

When is cannabis legal?

The Drug Misuse Act 1986 prohibits possession of illicit drugs without a prescription. In the Drugs Misuse Regulation 1987, cannabis is listed as a ‘schedule 2 dangerous drug’.

Therefore, it is illegal to use, possess produce, supply and/or traffick cannabis for recreational purposes in Queensland.

However, cannabis can be used legally as long as:

  • It has been obtained for medicinal purposes and
  • With permission from a doctor with the necessary Commonwealth authority or approvals.

Individuals cannot apply to the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) to obtain approval to access medicinal cannabis. You must go through your doctor, who applies on your behalf after assessing your circumstances and needs.

The cannabis must also be used in the prescribed way. You cannot, for example, give prescribed medicinal cannabis, that has been prescribed for you by a doctor, to a friend. If you do, you may be liable for severe penalties, potentially including a term of imprisonment. The approval for your medicinal cannabis may also be withdrawn.

When is cannabis not legal?

Cannabis is illegal when not prescribed for medicinal purposes as laid out above.

In addition, there are restrictions on what you can and cannot do with medicinal cannabis.


You cannot grow your own cannabis, even for medicinal purposes, except under the Federal licensing scheme. Section 8 of the Drugs Misuse Act 1986 specifies that it is an offence to unlawfully produce a dangerous drug. This includes cannabis.

Any cultivation, whether it’s a single plant grown on your windowsill or a full-scale hydroponic set up, is illegal. The penalties vary depending on the quantity of drug cultivated. For cultivation of under 500 grams or 100 plants, the maximum penalty is 15 years imprisonment. For amounts over 500 grams or 100 plants it is 20 years.

If you are charged with cultivating cannabis, it is imperative that you contact a drug lawyer in Brisbane urgently. Drug charges are very serious and it is important to receive expert advice as soon as possible. In some cases, it may be possible for a small amount of cannabis, grown strictly for personal use, to be deal with via a fine or community based order. A drug lawyer in Brisbane can help you negotiate the best possible outcome.

Public consumption of cannabis

Smoking cannabis in a public place may attract a fine, irrespective of whether that cannabis was validly prescribed to you for medicinal purposes.

Broadly speaking, medicinal cannabis is available in raw ‘botanical’ form, which may be vaporised (‘vaped’) but not smoked, or in oils, tinctures or sprays. Smoking cannabis, therefore, is a red flag to police officers that it is not medicinal.

It is possible to vape cannabis, but you should be aware that general laws around public nuisance and disturbance still apply. If you are vaping in a non-smoking area, or a police officer deems the smell to be a nuisance, you may risk a fine or even arrest.

Driving under the influence of cannabis

Drug driving is an offence even where the drug is prescribed by a doctor. This includes medicinal cannabis.

Roadside drug tests can detect whether THC is present in your blood. This is an active ingredient in cannabis, including some medicinal cannabis. It is not a defence to a drug driving charge to show that the cannabis was medically prescribed.

If you are prescribed medicinal cannabis, speak with your doctor about how that may affect your ability to drive, and plan accordingly. If you are charged with drug driving, get in touch with our drug lawyers in Brisbane for further advice.

Medicinal cannabis may help many people suffering from chronic pain and other medical conditions. However, it is important to understand what is and is not legal when it comes to cannabis. If you’re unsure, our drug lawyers in Brisbane can help.