Industrial cannabis production

Industrial cannabis (Cannabis sativa) production in Queensland is managed under Part 5B of the Drugs Misuse Act 1986 (the Act) and Part 4 of the Drugs Misuse Regulation 1987 (the Regulation).

Industrial cannabis is specifically bred to have tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) levels of no more than 1% and does not have the psychoactive properties that marijuana does. In Queensland, the crop is grown commercially to produce fibre and seed, however recent amendments to the Act now allow industrial cannabis seed to be produced for food for human consumption.

The Department of Agriculture and Fisheries does not deal with licences to allow cannabis to be grown for medicinal use. Contact the Commonwealth Office of Drug Control for information about researching, cultivation and producing industrial cannabis for medicinal purposes.

Recent amendments to drugs misuse legislation

From 12 November 2017, changes to the Australia New Zealand Food Standards Code (the Code) allow for the sale of low-THC hemp seed foods for human consumption. To align with these changes, the Queensland Parliament introduced amendments to the Act and Regulation on 29 March 2018 that allow the growing of industrial cannabis seeds for food for human consumption.

Industrial cannabis conditions, restrictions and licences

There are 3 licence types under the Act.

Grower licence

Currently the Act allows the holder of a grower licence to:

  • possess and supply industrial cannabis and produce industrial cannabis plants and seed from certified cannabis seed
  • possess and supply industrial cannabis seed to a category 1 or 2 researcher, another grower or an analyst
  • produce and supply class A or B research cannabis plants and seed.

Researcher licence

Currently under the Act, there are 2 categories of researcher licence.

A researcher licence category 1 allows the holder to:

  • possess and supply industrial cannabis and class A and B research cannabis plants and seed
  • produce industrial cannabis and class A and B research cannabis plants and seed
  • supply processed cannabis to a manufacturer.

A researcher licence category 2 allows the holder to:

  • possess and supply industrial cannabis and class B research cannabis plants and seed
  • produce industrial cannabis and class B research cannabis plants and seed
  • supply processed cannabis to a manufacturer.

Licenced growers and researchers must maintain records of their activities, including any industrial cannabis in their possession and when and how much they plant. For more detail on the record keeping obligations of licensees, see Division 7A of the Regulation.

Hemp industry participants other than growers and researchers

If you are not a grower or researcher, but you participate in the industrial hemp industry in another capacity, you don't need a licence. However, you must abide by the Drugs Misuse Regulation 1987 (Qld).

Seed handlers

People who handle industrial cannabis seed, either as a supplier or denaturer, do not require a licence, however there are requirements under the Act they must follow:

Seed suppliers must:

  • keep industrial cannabis seed locked in a secure place
  • maintain records on seed held and supplied
  • ensure seed is labelled in accordance with requirements.

Denaturers process industrial cannabis seeds to prevent seed germination. Denatured seeds, or processed cannabis, are used in manufacturing seed or oil products, including products for human consumption.

Denaturers must:

  • keep industrial cannabis seed that has not yet been denaturered in a securely locked place
  • maintain records of seed received.

Dangerous drug offences may still apply to any other dealings with industrial cannabis unless you hold the relevant licence and conduct activities in accordance with the conditions of the licence.

Analysts

If you conduct analysis of cannabis to determine its THC concentration, you must have approval granted under the Health (Drugs and Poisons) Regulation 1999 (Qld). Cannabis plant material must only be analysed in a laboratory that is accredited by the National Association of Testing Authorities, Australia.

Manufacturers

If you own or operate a facility that uses or processes industrial cannabis to manufacture a product for sale, you are allowed to possess processed cannabis.

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