Are Psychedelics Legal in Australia?

By Phil Dubley Last Updated: May 20, 2022
Last Updated: May 20, 2022
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In Australia, the use and possession of any psychedelic substance is illegal. The fines and penalties here are somewhat excessive. 

However, scientists are studying their medicinal applications in the field of psychotherapy, and new laws may be coming soon to allow the medicinal use of magic mushrooms and other psychedelics.

Let’s explore the current state of psychedelic decriminalization in Australia. 

Summary of Psychedelic Drug Laws in Australia

  • Magic mushrooms and other psychedelics are illegal for recreational use in Australia.
  • Fines for possession start at $2,000.
  • Recreational cannabis is illegal at the federal level.
  • Medical cannabis is legal, but only through registered pharmaceutical preparations.
  • The Australian government recently invested $15 million to research psychedelic applications in psychotherapy.
  • No law prohibits buying magic mushroom cultivation kits and spores.

Australia Drug Scheduling Chart

ClassType of SubstancePsychedelics
1Not in useNone
2Pharmacy medicine; Dextromethorphine, aspirin, ibuprofen, non-sedating antihistaminesNone
3Pharmacist only medicine; Medications that are prescription-only, like pseudophedrine and salbutamolNone
4Prescription-only or prescription animal ready; Prescriptions that carry a risk of dependence, need more research or are a new substance, such as amoxicillin, anabolic steroids, all SSRIs, SNRIs, TCAs, MAOIs, and antipsychotics None
5Caution; Require simple warning labels; Drugs or poisons with low to moderate toxicity, cause minor adverse effects, require care in handling or storageNone
6Poisons; Requires distinctive package and strong warning labels; Has moderate to high toxicity and risk of severe injury or death if inhaled or consumedNone
7Dangerous Poison; High potential for harm at low exposure and requires special precautions for handling and manufacturing; only available to those authorized None
8Controlled drugs; High potential for abuse and addiction, like cocaine, fentanyl, barbiturates, methamphetamine, opium, oxycodoneKetamine
9Prohibited substance; available only for prescribed purposes such as analysis, and medical or scientific research, including clinical trials, conducted with the approval of Commonwealth and/or State/Territory health authorities, like cannabis, coca leaf, kratom, heroin, mescalineMDMA, psilocybin, psilocin, DMT, LSD, Salvia divinorum, 2-CB
10Substances of danger; Sale, supply, and use are prohibited, like coal tar, borage, Juniperus sabina, oxyphenisatinNone

Sources:

No, magic mushrooms are illegal in Australia.

Psilocybin belongs to Schedule 9 of the Poisons Standard, which gives a general description of substances. They are illegal at the federal level, but each state or territory is responsible for establishing its own fines and penalties. This means individual states have the capacity to decriminalize psychedelics without the approval of the federal government. 

Recently, the federal government awarded $15 million in grants to support research regarding the safe usage of psychedelics in psychotherapy. In addition, Queensland health authorities granted permission to Dr. Alistair McTaggart to collect and classify psilocybin mushrooms for therapeutic use.

Finally, spores and grow kits are legal in Australia because they do not contain psilocybin. Still, their cultivation is illegal, so you could get in trouble with the law if they flourish.

Where to Buy Magic Mushroom Spores in Australia

Magic mushroom spores are theoretically legal to possess because they do not contain psilocybin. However, cultivating magic mushrooms from spores is illegal and, depending on the state, can cost you up to 25 years in prison.

Still, there is no law against possessing or buying magic mushroom spores without the intention of cultivating them, and you can find them for sale on the internet.

Do Magic Mushrooms Grow Wild in Australia?

Yes, magic mushrooms grow naturally in Australia.

There are approximately 30 species of psilocybin mushrooms in Australia. Some are native, while many others were introduced from Europe, the Americas, and Asia and have since become naturalized. 

Magic mushrooms are found in virtually every environment on Earth, with the exception of Antarctica.

Here is a list of magic mushroom species commonly found in Australia:

  1. Psilocybe subaeruginosa 
  2. Psilocybe alutacea 
  3. Psilocybe tasmaniana 

What Are the Medicinal Uses of Shrooms?

Lately, the United States and many European countries are pushing towards the legalization of magic mushrooms. The reason is the proven efficacy of psilocybin as a treatment for various conditions.

For example, mushrooms have the potential as a treatment for depression. Psilocybin interacts with serotonin receptors, and patients report improvements even with microdosing, sometimes exceeding the efficacy of existing antidepressants.

In addition, psilocybin may also help patients with post-traumatic stress disorder. The substance balances the amygdala’s activity, decreasing anxiety, and flashbacks that make daily life difficult for PTSD-ridden patients.

Magic mushrooms are often used medicinally for people faced with a terminal illness. A large part of end-of-life (palliative) care involves addressing afflictions of existential dread and anxiety — something magic mushrooms and other psychedelics have proven invaluable for addressing. 

Surprisingly, mushrooms have also been found to provide rapid relief from cluster headaches and migraines.

Furthermore, shrooms can temporarily suppress the brain’s default mode network (DMN), a distributed brain network responsible for rumination and negative thoughts. This way, psychedelics can temporarily turn off cravings, helping people recover from addiction or obsessive-compulsive disorder. 

Finally, psilocybin and other psychedelics have been shown to stimulate creativity and boost problem-solving abilities.

What Are the Penalties for Use & Possession in Each Australian State?

Each territory has its laws regarding substances, so possessing a microdose or even holding a joint could cost you two completely different penalties depending on where you are.

Australian Capital Territory

For example, in the Australian Capital Territory, if the police charge you with simple possession of an illegal psychedelic substance, you could risk a $7,500 fine or up to two years in prison.

New South Wales

In New South Wales, using or possessing any prohibited substance is an offense. Fines start at $2200, although New South Wales authorities can also sentence you to up to two years in prison.

Northern Territory

In the Northern Territory, you could face a maximum fine of $2,533 or two years in jail for being caught in possession of an illegal psychoactive substance such as magic mushrooms.

However, while possession is also an offense, your punishment will depend on the type of substance and the amounts involved.

Fines for simple possession range from $2,533 to $5,960, depending on whether the substance is categorized as Schedule 8 or Schedule 9. 

Queensland

Possessing illegal substances is an offense in Queensland as well. Typically, simple possession of marijuana is punishable by a fine. In addition, having paraphernalia, such as bongs, could cost you up to two years in jail.

Furthermore, possessing other substances could cost you, depending on the amount, a fine of up to $570,000 or 25 years in prison. Consequently, it could get recorded on your criminal record, complicating job applications, among other impediments.

South Australia

In South Australia, police can charge you with two offenses: use and possession or manufacturing and trafficking. Both use and possession carry a fine of up to $2,000 or 2 years in jail. Still, the maximum penalty for marijuana-related cases is $500.

Tasmania

In Tasmania, using and possessing prohibited substances is illegal, and for these offenses, you could be fined up to $7,850 or imprisoned for two years. However, depending on the seriousness of the crime, you may also just be let off with a warning.

Victoria

In Melbourne and throughout Victoria, using and possessing prohibited substances can cost you a fine of up to $4,663 or a year in jail. But, for using or holding cannabis, the maximum penalty is $777, and you will not be jailed.

Western Australia

The maximum fine for possession of personal amounts of psychedelic substances in Western Australia is $2,000 and up to two years in jail. In addition, even simple possession may affect your criminal record. 

No, LSD is illegal in Australia.

LSD (lysergic acid diethylamide) belongs to Schedule 9 of the Poisons Standard in Australia, which classifies substances with the highest risk of abuse. Therefore, its use, possession, and sale are illegal, except for medical or scientific research.

For such purposes, the Commonwealth or territorial authorities must grant a permit. Otherwise, you may receive a minimum fine of $2,000 or even a few years in prison, depending on the territory.

There’s no indication LSD will become legal or decriminalized in Australia in the near future. 

No, DMT is illegal in Australia.

DMT, known as the spirit molecule, also falls under Schedule 9 of banned substances. In addition, there is a specific mention on this list for bufotenin, a DMT-analog found in the Bufo toad venom.

While Australia maintains a tough stance on substances, ayahuasca and changa are not explicitly banned, and prosecution of the user is very infrequent.

No, MDMA is illegal in Australia.

MDMA, also known as ecstasy, is listed on Schedule 9 of banned substances according to the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA). However, this could soon change, given the authorities’ willingness to investigate the potential adoption of psychedelic-assisted psychotherapy

MDMA is one of the primary candidates for legal psychedelic therapies in Australia as well as Canada, the United States, and Germany. 

Ketamine is legal for medical and veterinary use in Australia but strictly prohibited for recreational use.

Ketamine belongs to Schedule 8 of the banned substances list in Australia. Approved clinics are already permitted to administer ketamine to patients in the form of nasal sprays (Spravato) or IV drips in the treatment of depression. However, only patients who have proven unresponsive to other antidepressant therapies are approved for ketamine therapy. 

Marijuana is only legal for medicinal use in Australia. The medical programs here are stricter than in other parts of the world and can be very difficult to gain access. 

Even once access is approved, finding high-quality marijuana has proven challenging for most patients. 

The recreational use of marijuana is illegal in all but one state — Australian Capital Territory. Here, the law recently decriminalized the use and possession of amounts under 50 grams of cannabis.

The Australian parliament passed the Narcotic Drugs Amendment in 2016, legalizing the medicinal use of cannabis. The Department of Health is currently reviewing existing studies on marijuana for various conditions.

Medicinal marijuana is listed as a Schedule 8 substance, only available through pharmaceutical formulations. Thus, patients with epilepsy, chronic pain, chemotherapy-related nausea, or multiple sclerosis may consult the doctor for authorization.

Moreover, the TGA considers all other forms of THC to be Schedule 9 substances. Therefore, delta 8 THC and delta 10 THC isomers are as illegal as the better-known delta 9 THC. Still, in the case of delta 8, a practitioner can approve its medical use.

Hemp-derived, non-psychoactive cannabinoids such as CBD (cannabidiol), CBC (cannabichromene), CBG (cannabigerol), and CBN (cannabinol) are all legal and available without a prescription in Australia. 

What’s The Difference Between Legalization & Decriminalization?

While legalization and decriminalization are two similar concepts, they do not mean the same thing. Below are some vital differences that will help you avoid confusing the two terms.

Decriminalizing a substance means that the penalties and fines for using or possessing it are significantly reduced but not eliminated. For example, in the Australian Capital Territory, cannabis for adult recreational use is decriminalized but still illegal.

On the other hand, legalization means removing all penalties and fines for use, possession, and cultivation. As a result, the substance becomes legal, although with limitations. In addition, the regulation that legalizes a substance also creates a regulatory framework for its sale.

Key Takeaways: What’s The Future of Psychedelics in Australia?

Currently, Australia has a rigid stance on substances. Each state has the ability to apply its own punishments for possession charges independently, so punishments vary significantly from one region to another.

Despite this, the country recently invested $15 million to research the medicinal use of psychedelics. These steps suggest that Australia may be considering decriminalizing or potentially even legalizing some psychedelics for medical use. The most likely candidate for this would be MDMA, psilocybin, or research chemicals such as 18-MC.