Medicinal Cannabis - Information for Pharmacists in Tasmania

NOTE: This information is effective from 1 July 2021

Scheduling and registration of medicinal cannabis

Regulation of medicinal cannabis products follows the same regulatory process as for all other medicines and includes both Commonwealth and State legislation and frameworks.

Medicinal cannabis products are scheduled in the Commonwealth Poisons Standard. Applicable controls depending on the schedule of the products are applied in Tasmania under the Poisons Act 1971 and Poisons Regulations 2018.

Most medicines prescribed in Australia have been approved by the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) for inclusion on the Australian Register of Therapeutic Goods (ARTG).  Medicines are only included on the ARTG when the TGA is satisfied with the medicine’s evidence of quality, safety and efficacy.   Medicines that the TGA has either not assessed, or that have insufficient evidence of quality, safety and efficacy are known as ‘unregistered’ medicines.

Eligible prescribers

In Tasmania, a registered medical practitioner can prescribe unregistered medicinal cannabis to a patient if they believe it is clinically appropriate and have obtained all required Commonwealth and / or State approvals and authorisations. For information on required approvals please see ‘Information for Prescribers in Tasmania’.

For a Schedule 8 medicinal cannabis product to be legally dispensed by a pharmacy in Tasmania, the medical practitioner must be present and practicing in Tasmania when writing the prescription.

Dispensing medicinal cannabis prescriptions

Prescriptions for medicinal cannabis products may be legally dispensed at any pharmacy in Tasmania if the prescription meets the requirements of the Poisons Act 1971 and Poisons Regulations 2018.

The Poisons Act 1971 and Poisons Regulations 2018 detail requirements for dispensing, recording, packaging, labelling and reporting associated with Schedule 4 and Schedule 8 medicines (including medicinal cannabis products) under Tasmanian poisons legislation.

Commonwealth requirements and professional practice standards and guidelines for dispensing medicines also apply. Pharmacists should refer to the Pharmacy Board of Australia and their professional organisations for further practice guidance.

Obtaining products

Registered medicinal cannabis products are available through usual pharmaceutical supply pathways.

If the prescription is for an unregistered medicinal cannabis product, the pharmacist will need to identify the manufacturer or sponsor / supplier to arrange ordering. This information may be found on the SAS or AP approval form.

For unregistered medicinal cannabis products, the pharmacy will need to provide the supplier with a copy of the SAS or AP approval form before the supplier can release the product.

Prescribers will usually provide a copy of the TGA approval to the patient with their prescription. If not, the pharmacy will need to contact the prescriber for a copy.

Contact details for licensed manufacturers and sponsors / suppliers are available from the Office of Drug Control (ODC) website.

If the product is not available through the sponsor, the pharmacist may need to apply for a licence and a permit to import the unregistered medicinal cannabis product from an approved overseas manufacturer. Information on import is available on the ODC website.

Storage of Schedule 8 medicinal cannabis products

Schedule 8 medicinal cannabis products must be stored as per the requirements of regulation 29 of the Poisons Regulations 2018.

Some medicinal cannabis products require refrigeration. In a retail pharmacy or hospital pharmacy, refrigerated storage must meet all the following requirements to be considered an approved storage arrangement for Schedule 8 medicinal cannabis products:

  • The refrigerator must be in a dispensary, room or enclosure to which the public does not have access.
  • The refrigerator must be securely attached to a part of the premises.
  • The refrigerator, or the room or enclosure in which the refrigerator is kept, must be kept securely locked when not in immediate use.
    • A key used to secure the refrigerated storage must be kept on the person of a pharmacist or be securely locked in a safe that can be unlocked only by a pharmacist.
    • A code or combination that is used to secure the refrigerated storage must not be disclosed to any person who is not a pharmacist,
  • The refrigerator must not be used to store any other item that is not a substance listed in Schedule 2, 3, 4 or 8 of the Poisons Standard or is not a therapeutic good.

Further professional practice information

Resources to support pharmacists available from NPS medicine wise website.