Medicinal Cannabis Compassionate Use Scheme

The NSW Government established the Medicinal Cannabis Compassionate Use Scheme to extend compassion to adults with a terminal illness. This Scheme was formerly named the Terminal Illness Cannabis Scheme.

The Medicinal Cannabis Compassionate Use Scheme provides guidelines for NSW Police officers about using their discretion not to charge adults with a terminal illness for possession of cannabis not lawfully prescribed if they are registered with the Scheme, as well as up to three registered carers. 

The Scheme does not supply cannabis or cannabis products or endorse the use of cannabis products not lawfully prescribed. There are legal pathways for a medical practitioner to prescribe a cannabis medicine for their patient, if the practitioner believes it is an appropriate treatment option. More information can be found here. Information about NSW Government-funded clinical trials can be found here.

NSW residents who are aged 18 years and over who have a terminal illness are eligible to be registered with the Scheme. 

To register for the scheme, a medical practitioner who is registered in Australia and involved in the patient’s ongoing care must certify that the person has a terminal illness as defined by the scheme. A person may nominate up to three carers aged 18 years and over to be registered under the Scheme. A person may be nominated as the carer for a maximum of three adults with a terminal illness.

In May 2016 the then-Premier of NSW, Mike Baird, announced the change in name of the scheme and that the NSW Chief Scientist & Engineer, Professor Mary O’Kane, would oversee a broad review of the scheme. The review report is available here.


Frequently asked questions

Who is eligible for the scheme?

NSW residents who are aged 18 years and over who have a terminal illness are eligible to be registered for the scheme.

For detailed information about eligibility, see the fact sheet for adults with a terminal illness and their carers.

How can I register for the scheme?

Information about registering for the scheme is available from the fact sheet for adults with a terminal illness and their carers.

What activities are covered by the scheme?

Registered adults with a terminal illness can:

  • possess no more than the specified maximum amount of cannabis outlined in table 1.
  • use cannabis at their usual place of residence or any domestic residence.

Registered carers can:

  • possess no more than the maximum amount of cannabis outlined in table 1
  • administer or supply cannabis to a registered adult at their usual place of residence, or any domestic residence.

Maximum amounts are listed in the table below.

Cannabis form Specified maximum amount
Cannabis leaf 15 grams
Cannabis oil 1 gram
Cannabis resin 2.5 grams
Will medical practitioners be prescribing cannabis?

Medical practitioners will not be ‘prescribing’ cannabis. They will only be certifying that adults have a terminal illness as defined by the scheme.

For more information on the role of NSW medical practitioners under the scheme, visit the fact sheet for NSW medical practitioners.

Where will eligible individuals source cannabis?

The scheme is being implemented to provide adults with terminal illness and their carers with greater peace of mind. In line with the existing situation, sourcing cannabis is a matter for adults with a terminal illness and their carers.

What happens if an adult with a terminal illness or their registered carer under the scheme is stopped by NSW Police Force officers for supplying, possessing or using cannabis?

Police may ask to see a copy of your registration documentation. They may also verify your registration with the NSW Department of Justice.

Why won’t the scheme apply to people with other health conditions?

Cannabis is a harmful drug, particularly for young people. Because of this, at this time, the scheme only applies to adults with a terminal illness who use cannabis and/or cannabis products to alleviate their symptoms or carers who assist them.

How is the NSW Government supporting further research on cannabis for medicinal purposes?

The NSW Government is in discussions with other Australian jurisdictions, including the Commonwealth, to put the use of cannabis and/or cannabis products for medical conditions on the national research agenda.

Is the Government establishing clinical trials?

Yes. The NSW Government has announced funding for clinical trials to further explore the use of cannabis and/or cannabis products in providing relief for patients suffering from a range of debilitating or terminal illnesses.