You now have permission to grow cannabis in NSW – if you are the state government.
NSW is the first state to have been given approval to grow cannabis under licence from the federal government as part of research into the best way to cultivate the plant.
That step will lay the foundations for private growers to supply medical cannabis, the state government said.
"This underpins the potential pharmaceutical supply of cannabis-based medicines made in Australia," said the NSW Primary Industries Minister, Niall Blair. "We are the first state to be authorised by the Commonwealth to conduct cultivation research."
The drug will be grown at a high-security facility under strict protocols.
The state government is conducting three clinical trials of the efficacy of medical cannabis for treating conditions such as intractable childhood epilepsy and chemotherapy-related nausea.
Canadian and British companies are supplying the cannabis-based medicine being used by patients in those trials. Tasmania, applying for a similar licence, will also supply cannabis for some forthcoming clinical trials.
"Our end goal is that we will see proven, standardised and legal pharmaceutical cannabis products that can be trusted and prescribed," said Minister for Medical Research Pru Goward.
Premier Mike Baird has said he wants to make NSW a global leader in medical cannabis cultivation and research. The government has committed to spending $21 million on medical cannabis research.
A record $30 million grant from the Lambert family created a cannabis research centre at Sydney University.
A study by the Sydney University Business School found that legalising medical cannabis in Australia would create an industry worth $150 million and demand for 8000 kilograms a year of plant material.
Legislation passed earlier this year by federal parliament made it legal to grow cannabis under licence.
Private companies will later be able to apply for licences under the scheme. Victoria has legalised medical cannabis from next year for patients with severe childhood epilepsy. Tasmania will also legalise its use for a broader range of conditions.