Growing industrial cannabis or hemp in Queensland

Industrial cannabis or hemp (Cannabis sativa) 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. Industrial cannabis seed, or grain, is allowed to be produced for food for human consumption.

To grow industrial cannabis in Queensland you must hold a licence issued by the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries (Biosecurity Queensland). Industrial cannabis 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).

Biosecurity Queensland does not issue or administer licences to allow cannabis to be grown for medicinal use. Contact the Australian Government's Office of Drug Control for information about researching, cultivating and manufacturing cannabis for medicinal purposes. Cultivating, researching, or attempting to manufacture medicinal cannabis under an industrial cannabis licence is strictly prohibited in Queensland.

Industrial cannabis licences in Queensland

Depending on the type of activity to be authorised, applicants can apply to Biosecurity Queensland for:

  • a grower licence
  • or
  • a researcher licence
  • or
  • a seed handler licence.

Grower licence

The Act allows the holder of a grower licence to:

  • possess and supply industrial cannabis and produce industrial cannabis plants and seed from planting seed
    • planting seed means cannabis seed that has been harvested from a cannabis plant with a THC concentration, in the plant's leaves and flowering heads, of not more than 0.5%
  • supply industrial cannabis seed to a researcher, another grower or seed handler
  • supply processed cannabis to authorised persons.

Researcher licence

The Act allows the holder of a researcher licence to:

  • possess for research purposes, industrial cannabis, class A and class B research cannabis plants and seed
  • produce industrial cannabis, class A and class B research cannabis plants and seed for research purposes
  • supply industrial cannabis and research cannabis to a grower or another researcher for research purposes
  • supply processed cannabis to authorised persons noting class A and class B research cannabis cannot be used for processed cannabis.

When applying for a researcher licence, you will be required to provide a detailed research plan that describes your proposed research activities. You will also have to demonstrate you have the necessary skills, experience and qualifications (e.g. plant breeding) to undertake the research.

Seed handler licence

The Act allows the holder of a seed handler licence to:

  • possess industrial cannabis seed for the purpose of storing, denaturing, manufacturing and trading in the seed
  • supply industrial cannabis seed and processed cannabis seed to authorised persons.

Record keeping

If you are a holder of any of the above licences, you must maintain records of your activities, including any cannabis material in your possession and when and how much you plant. Read Division 7 of the regulation for more detail on the record-keeping obligations of licensees.

Prohibited activities

Licence holders are prohibited from:

  • extracting and/or producing cannabidiol (CBD) oil or any other product from industrial cannabis leaves or flowering heads
  • supplying industrial cannabis leaves or flowering heads to another person for the purpose of producing CBD oil or any other product
  • allowing food producing animals to consume industrial cannabis plants.

Industrial cannabis (hemp) industry participants other than licensees

In some circumstances, if you are not a grower, researcher or seed handler, but you participate in the industrial cannabis (hemp) industry in another capacity (for example, an analyst or manufacturer), you may not require a licence. However, you must still comply with the Drugs Misuse Regulation 1987 (Qld) (e.g. analysts and manufacturers).

Analysts

If you conduct analysis of cannabis to determine its THC concentration, you must have approval granted under the Medicine and Poisons Act 2019 (Qld) or an equivalent approval from another state or territory. Cannabis plant material must only be analysed in a laboratory that is accredited for drug analysis by the National Association of Testing Authorities (NATA) 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.

Processed cannabis means industrial cannabis plants that have been harvested or treated so they have no leaf, flower or viable seed harvested from industrial cannabis plants.

You need a seed handler licence if you receive unprocessed cannabis in the form of whole, viable, industrial cannabis seed that has not been denatured.

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.

How to obtain an industrial cannabis licence

Contact Biosecurity Queensland on 13 25 23 to discuss your licensing requirements and to obtain the relevant forms.

Once you have applied, Biosecurity Queensland will assess your application in accordance with the requirements of the Act to determine if you are fit and proper to hold a licence. You will be required to provide information on your criminal history and bankruptcy clearance. Unlike other crops, industrial cannabis is a regulated crop and therefore does have additional requirements on the licensees such as security, mandatory record keeping and notifications.

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