how to get cannabis plant - plant growing in dirt

How to get medicinal cannabis

An overview of medical cannabis access for patients and medical professionals

Any medical doctor can prescribe medicinal cannabis in Australia with the approval from the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) and the relevant State or Territory’s Health Department. 

Patients may be eligible to trial medicinal cannabis if they have a chronic medical condition where conventional treatment options were determined to be unsuitable, and there is evidence to support the use of medicinal cannabis for the condition. 

Most medicinal cannabis products are unapproved products in Australia as they do not appear on the Australian Register of Therapeutic Goods (ARTG). This means that you can’t simply go to a doctor, obtain a prescription, and fill it at a pharmacy as you would with conventional registered medicines.

Instead, the TGA, the governing body that regulates access to all medicines including medicinal cannabis, have created pathways for doctors to access medicinal cannabis products for their patients, where clinically appropriate.

Australian registered medical practitioners who would like to access unapproved medicinal cannabis products for the treatment of appropriate patients may choose to do so through the Special Access Scheme (SAS) or the Authorised Prescriber Scheme. Alternatively, doctors can suggest their patients for a clinical trial or refer them to a doctor more experienced with medicinal cannabis.

More information can be found on the TGA's website.

Medicinal cannabis: The Special Access Scheme (SAS) and Authorised Prescriber (AP) pathways

A table outlining the pathways available to access medicinal cannabis

Access option


Special Access Scheme

For prescribing medicinal cannabis to a single patient

Authorised Prescriber

For prescribing medicinal cannabis to multiple patients (with similar indications)

Clinical Trials

Referring patient for a clinical trial, if available


Referring patient to a doctor more experienced in prescribing medicinal cannabis

How doctors can apply for medicinal cannabis

The medical practitioner has two ways of applying for unregistered medicines:

1. Special Access Scheme (SAS)

To source a drug for a single patient, a doctor can use the Special Access Scheme.

2. Authorised Prescriber (AP)

The doctor can apply to the TGA to become an Authorised Prescriber (AP), allowing the doctor to prescribe an unregistered medicine to a whole class of patients. For example, a paediatric neurologist might apply to the TGA to become an AP to prescribe medical cannabis products to children with epilepsy.

Clinical Trials on Medicinal Cannabis

Some patients may be eligible for clinical trials investigating medicinal cannabis products. 

Information on the clinical trials taking place at the Lambert Initiative can be found here.

A list of all Australian medicinal cannabis clinical trials can be found by searching 'cannabis' on the Australian/New Zealand Clinical Trial Registry.

What products are available?

It is the responsibility of the prescriber to specify which product they wish to access. The TGA provides a list of unapproved medicinal cannabis products that can assist prescribers with selecting the appropriate product. Find out more.