Queensland Relaxes Medical Cannabis Seed Laws

Medical cannabis seed - Queensland, Australia
Image: Public Domain

Laws have been changed in the Australian state of Queensland to allow authorised parties to supply seeds for the nation’s medical cannabis supply chain.

While industrial hemp has been legally cultivated in Queensland for some time, growers have been unable to supply seed for the nation’s medical cannabis sector. In September last year, the Palaszcuk Government proposed amendments to laws to address the situation.

“We listened to what industry had to say, and took the matter to Canberra, who are now allowing seed to be sourced from legal Australian breeders,” said Minister for Agriculture and Fisheries Bill Byrne, who stated Queensland’s licensed growers and researchers have already developed valuable cannabis seed lines.

“This creates new opportunities for Queenslanders. The changes will be mutually beneficial for licensed industrial cannabis growers and those Queensland businesses interested in being part of the emerging medicinal cannabis industry in Australia.”

The required amendments to Queensland’s Drugs Misuse Act 1986 were made last week. One of the objects of  Part 5B of the Act relates to:

“(b) the processing and marketing of, and trade in, industrial cannabis seed and seed products, other than for the purpose, directly or indirectly, of producing anything for administration to, or consumption or smoking by, a person.”

Minister Byrne says the amendments have been worded to ensure local suppliers can be competitive with seed suppliers operating from elsewhere in Australia.

The Minister also commented on recently reported medicinal cannabis cost issues and Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt’s rejection of Queensland’s request that it be subsidised.

“… we would urge Minister Hunt to reconsider his decision. As a Government, we’ve put in place the most robust scheme in Australia to allow appropriate patients access to medicinal cannabis. We want it to be as affordable as possible, but that ball is now in the Commonwealth’s court,” he said.

In somewhat related news, as we reported yesterday, Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ) has finally approved variations to the Food Safety Code that would enable the sale of hemp seed products as a food.

Medicinal cannabis and hemp seed can be entirely different products. For example, industrial hempseed produces plants that are very low in the psychoactive cannabinoid, tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). However, industrial hemp can contain commercially viable levels of another cannabinoid called cannabidiol (CBD), which is prized for its therapeutic attributes.