Drugs, Poisons and Controlled Substances Act 1981 - poppy cultivation and processing licences

Under the Drugs, Poisons and Controlled Substances Act 1981, VCAT can review some decisions of the Secretary of the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning made about poppy cultivation and poppy processing licences.

This page provides general information and shouldn't be considered as legal advice. Seek legal advice if you're unsure about your legal rights. Be aware that the law can change.

The Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning was formerly called the Department of Environment and Primary Industries, as it is referred to in the Drugs, Poisons and Controlled Substances Act 1981 

Cases we can hear

You may be able to apply to VCAT for a review if the Secretary has made a decision to:

  • refuse to issue a poppy cultivation licence or a poppy processing licence to you
  • refuse to renew a poppy cultivation licence or a poppy processing licence held by you
  • refuse to register a contract between a licensed grower and a licensed processor in the alkaloid poppy register
  • suspend, cancel or amend a poppy cultivation licence or a poppy processing licence held by you.

Other related applications

VCAT can also review some decisions about low THC cannabis authority under this Act.

Cases we can't help with

We can’t accept:

  • some cases where one party lives in another state or is a Commonwealth government organisation
  • cases heard under federal law instead of Victorian law.

Legislation that gives VCAT the power to hear these applications

Section 69UA(1) of the Drugs, Poisons and Controlled Substances Act 1981

Documents you need to apply

If you have a decision document, use it to help you complete the VCAT application form and attach a copy of the document to your application.

Time limits

You must make your application within 28 days from when:

  • the decision was made, or
  • if you have requested a statement of reasons, the statement of reasons is given to you or you are informed that a statement of reasons will not be given.

Protected information in cases under this Act

If VCAT receives an application for review under section 69UA(1)(a), (c) or (e), we must enquire of the Secretary whether the grounds for the refusal, suspension, cancellation or amendment were based on any protected information.

What will happen if the decision for refusal was based on protected information?

VCAT must appoint a special counsel to represent your interests.

A special counsel must be a barrister within the meaning of the Legal Profession Act 2004 who, in our opinion, has the appropriate skills and ability to represent your interests at the hearing.

Special counsel will communicate with you or your representative before they attend the hearing or obtain any confidential affidavit in relation to the application.

However, after the special counsel commences to attend the hearing or obtains any confidential affidavit in relation to the application, they:

  • must not take instructions from your or your representative
  • must not communicate any other information in relation to the hearing to you or your representative without permission from VCAT, except to tell you of any order made by VCAT at or in relation to the hearing.
  • may be required to sign a confidentiality undertaking to VCAT.

What will happen at the hearing?

A Presidential Member of VCAT will hear your case.

VCAT will decide whether or not the information is protected information. VCAT may hold the hearing or any part of it in private in order to decide whether or not the information is protected information.

If we decide to hold a hearing or part of a hearing in private, only the Chief Commissioner of Police and the special counsel can be present and they will make submissions to VCAT about whether the information is protected information and about whether you have the right character to be issued with a poppy cultivation or processing licence.

If we decide that none of the information is protected information, we will allow you into the hearing. If we decide that any of the information is protected information VCAT will prevent the release of the information and if special counsel wishes to speak with you, they can only do so with the permission of VCAT.

What can VCAT order?

Any order issued by VCAT must only state:

  • whether the decision of the Secretary is upheld or overturned, and
  • if the poppy cultivation licence or the poppy processing licence is not issued, reinstated or renewed (as the case requires), that you have failed to meet the fit and proper person requirements.


We can explain the application process and what the form is asking you for. Contact us to get support.

We can't give you legal advice. This means we can't tell you what to write in your application or recommend how to get the outcome you want.

Seek legal help if you're unsure about your options or need advice about your claim.

Make an application

You may have to pay a fee to apply to VCAT to review a decision. Learn more about fees or apply for fee relief.

Print-friendly application form

Do I need a lawyer or professional representative?

You don't need to have legal or other professional representation to appear at VCAT. If you want to be represented by a lawyer or a professional advocate, usually you must ask for VCAT's permission.

Be aware that the regulatory body in most cases uses legal representation.

Find legal services that may be able to assist you.

Access and privacy

VCAT hearings and files are usually public.

VCAT has limited authority to restrict who can access cases and files but, in certain circumstances, you can apply for confidentiality.