Importing Hemp Or Cannabis Products

Stellina Popplewell

We are increasingly being asked about importing Hemp and Cannabis. Below are some general comments about Australian regulations which would also be applicable to New Zealand.

Hemp (Apocynum cannabinum or Indian hemp) is included on the TGA permissible ingredient list (for AUST L – listing) as an active ingredient (and homoeopathic preparation ingredient) with the following restriction:

The concentration of equivalent dry Apocynum cannabinum in the medicine must be no more than 10mg/Kg or 10mg/L or 0.001%.

Cannabidiol (CBD) can only be used in prescription medicines.

In addition, the Poison Standard currently lists Cannabis and cannabinoids in Schedules 4 (prescription), 8 (controlled drugs) and 9 (teaching, training, medical or scientific research). The only exception is the following:

“Hemp seed oil” means the oil obtained by cold expression from the ripened fruits (seeds) of Cannabis sativa.

The important thing to note is not for internal use, therefore if it is for oral consumption then it will require TGA registration as a prescription medicine. It is also important to note that even if applied dermally, regardless of the Poison Standard exception, Cannabis sativa or Hemp-Derived Cannabinoid Oil are not TGA approved ingredients and therefore would need to be evaluated by the TGA and likely require listing or registration.

The Therapeutic Good Regulations 1990 (Schedule 5, item 1), allows the import of unapproved medicines (e.g. through the mail or by courier) for personal use (i.e. own treatment, not to be sold to others) under Personal Importation Scheme. However this does not include prohibited substances (i.e. cannabis, hemp oil etc.) and they will be seized by the Australian Border Force when it enters the country. So if the goods do not meet the exception above as per the Poison Standard (e.g. do not meet the CBD and THC restrictions or for oral consumption other than food), then it would be considered a prohibited substances and cannot be imported without an import licence form the Office of Drug Control.

The food standards (FSANZ) also allow the sale of hemp seed foods include hulled hemp seed, and foods derived from hemp seed such as oil, beverages, flour and protein powder etc. For hemp seed oil max CBD is 75 mg/kg and max total THC is 5 mg/kg.

These are general comments. Please contact us at DTS if you would like to discuss specific products.