TGA Issues Over $600,000 in Fines for Illegal Medicinal Cannabis Advertising

TGA Issues Over $600,000 in Fines for Illegal Medicinal Cannabis Advertising
Photo by Joshua Hoehne / Unsplash

The Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) has taken action against the unlawful advertising of medicinal cannabis, issuing 35 infringement notices totaling $627,252 to six businesses and two individuals. The penalties were imposed for alleged violations in advertising medicinal cannabis on websites and social media platforms.

Botanic Wellness Limited received the highest number of infringement notices, 13 in total, resulting in a $244,140 penalty. Other significant fines were issued to Grandiosa Imports Pty Ltd and Releaf Group Limited, each receiving seven notices and penalties of $131,460.

The TGA's crackdown targeted a range of entities, including licensed medicinal cannabis manufacturers, importers, a health clinic, and a retailer. The alleged violations included unlawful promotion of prescription-only medicinal cannabis and making prohibited claims about its efficacy in treating serious conditions such as cancer, post-traumatic stress disorder, and chronic pain.

Some advertisers reportedly used indirect terminology like "plant medicine" to refer to medicinal cannabis, while others allegedly implied TGA approval or recommendation for their products. The promotion of unapproved, prescription-only medicinal cannabis products was also cited as a violation.

The TGA emphasizes that advertising prescription-only medicines directly to consumers is prohibited as it may lead to inappropriate demand and potentially harmful prescribing practices. The Administration stresses that treatment decisions should be made by health professionals in consultation with their patients.

This enforcement action is part of a broader initiative by the TGA to combat unlawful medicinal cannabis advertising. Over the past two years, the TGA has initiated two civil penalty proceedings and issued 165 infringement notices, amounting to over $2.3 million in penalties.

The TGA reminds businesses that unlawful advertising of prescription-only medicines, including medicinal cannabis, is a serious breach of the Therapeutic Goods Act 1989, which can result in substantial fines or legal action.

For guidance on medicinal cannabis advertising and access, the TGA directs consumers, health professionals, and businesses to educational resources available on their website.

Media release