Cultivation and production of medicinal cannabis

Once you make the decision to start a medicinal cannabis cultivation and/or production business in Victoria, there are several steps to follow before you can legally operate.

Take a look at each of the sections below for all the information you'll need to get started, including information about requirements before you apply for the relevant licences and permits.

The Regulatory Requirements

The cultivation and production of medicinal cannabis in Victoria is regulated by the Australian Government's national licensing scheme under the Narcotic Drugs Act 1967.  

The Office of Drug Control (ODC) defines cultivation and production of cannabis as follows:  

  • cultivation (the growing of cannabis plants) includes all steps up to, but not including, harvest.
  • production (the separation of cannabis resin from plant material) - consists of harvest and placing in a container for the purpose of manufacture or research.

A person or business interested in cultivating medicinal cannabis in Victoria will need to obtain both a licence and permit from the Commonwealth Office of Drug Control (ODC) to engage in the cultivation and/or production of cannabis for medicinal and/or research purposes.  The licence and permit are:

  • a medicinal cannabis or cannabis research licence (an ODC licence)
  • a medicinal cannabis or cannabis research permit (an ODC permit).

An ODC licence allows you to legally cultivate and/or produce cannabis for medicinal or associated research purposes. You must be an Australian business entity or individual residing in Australia to apply for a licence. All licences will have conditions that require that any cannabis cultivated or produced is done in accordance with a permit.

Before Applying

Licences

An ODC licence allows you to legally cultivate and/or produce cannabis for medicinal or associated research purposes. Prior to applying for a licence there are preconditions that you must satisfy and a variety of documents that must be prepared to accompany your application. 

It is recommended that you familiarise yourself with the relevant information and requirements before applying. You can learn more about the dos and don'ts as well as accessing the medicinal cannabis licence application guidance from the ODC website.

Permits

You can only apply for a permit once the ODC licence has been granted. A permit allows the cultivation or production of cannabis. The permit will outline:

  • the types of cannabis plants that can be cultivated
  • the quantities that can be produced
  • the timeframes in which authorised activities can occur
  • the next party in the supply chain (specific manufacturer or researcher).

When applying for a permit, a licensee will need to demonstrate that the cultivation and /or production of the cannabis is for the purposes of either:

  • satisfying your contractual arrangements for supply to the holder of a medicinal cannabis manufacturer licence (you can view the requirements set out in the regulations).
  • research relating to medicinal cannabis or medicinal cannabis products.

Apply for a licence

You can apply for a manufacturing licence at the same time as a licence to cultivate.

  • Download, complete and submit the ODC licence application form online.
  • Visit the guidelines section of the ODC website for how to complete the application.
  • Once the application is submitted to the ODC, you will be issued an invoice for payment. Refer to the latest ODC fees and charges.

The ODC will formally advise you on your application. You can then apply for a permit when an ODC licence is granted.

Applying for a permit

An online permit application is currently not available on the ODC website.  Please contact the ODC to discuss your requirements and for further information on telephone: +61 2 6232 8648.

The ODC has advised that information requirements for a permit are not as extensive as those for a licence, because having successfully obtained a licence, you have already provided the information needed and been assessed by the ODC.

The following are some examples of what you will be asked to provide in a cultivation or production permit application:

  • types and strains of cannabis - including the concentrations of particular cannabinoids
  • size of crop and number of plants
  • period of cultivation/production, and
  • details of the source material (seeds/cultivars/germplasm etc.)
  • details of next party in the supply chain.

Licence/permit approval process

There is no statutory processing time for licence/permit application assessment, but the ODC advises that it aims to assess applications within 20 working days. This is excluding the time requesting for information and responding to queries.  For further information, visit the ODC website.

Costs

The ODC collect application fees for a medicinal cannabis or cannabis research licence/permit. The application fees are non-refundable.  Visit the ODC website for the latest ODC fees and charges.

Information on the costs involved in establishing a medicinal cannabis cultivation operation can be found in an independent report commissioned by the Commonwealth Department of Health in 2016.

Further Information

The ODC website sets out the legislation details required in the medicinal cannabis cultivation and production licence application, as well as provide the following guidelines:

If you need information or advice on any issue regarding the cultivation and production of medicinal cannabis, visit the ODC website or call:

General Enquiries regarding cultivation of medicinal cannabis - +61 2 6232 8433

Completing a medicinal cannabis licence/permit - +61 2 6232 8648

For other enquiries – +61 2 6232 8740

Page last updated: 11 January 2019