Medical cannabis therapies are fast becoming a potential viable alternative treatment for those suffering from chronic conditions. This article dives into medical cannabis therapies in Australia and how patients can access this alternative medicine.
What is medicinal cannabis?
Medicinal cannabis is derived from the cannabis plant.
Medicinal Cannabis has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, and it has been researched and shown to potentially prevent or reduce vomiting, relieve pain and help patients with side effects from other diseases or medications, this is due to the cannabinoids that act on the body’s endocannabinoid system. This is a communications system in the brain and body that influences, memory, mood, appetite and sleep.
The cannabis plant contains 80 to 100 cannabinoids. The psychoactive cannabinoid that is responsible for the ‘high’ feeling people get is called tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). The other most commonly known cannabinoid is cannabidiol (CBD).
The side effects of medicinal cannabis are still being studied. They may include:
- Dry mouth
- Low blood pressure
Medical cannabis in Australia is tightly regulated and there are different ways of accessing it. Let’s delve a little deeper into these access pathways.
How can I access medicinal cannabis?
Australia’s Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) regulates the supply of medicinal cannabis. Doctors can apply to the TGA to prescribe medicinal cannabis to certain patients through the Authorised Prescriber Scheme and the Special Access Scheme.
Three ways patients may be able to access medical cannabis are:
- Their GP
- A specialised medical cannabis clinic
- Taking part in a clinical trial
Option one is to speak to your GP about medical cannabis therapies, however, there is a large amount of negative stigma surrounding cannabis as a medicine and a lot of GP’s are uneducated or unaware of the potential of medicinal cannabis. A large number of Australian’s find themselves defeated after approaching their GP’s, however, fear not as there are cannabis clinics in Australia that specialise solely on medical cannabis therapies. An example of this is CDA Clinics who are Australia’s leading medicinal cannabis provider. Option three is taking part in a clinical trial.
You cannot apply to the TGA to get medicinal cannabis yourself; only your doctor will be able to apply. The doctor must meet certain requirements, must obtain permits, and must also comply with relevant state laws. However, the laws are different in each state, and this may affect whether you are eligible for medicinal cannabis therapies.
You can check the laws in your state by visiting:
- ACT Health
- NSW Government
- Northern Territory Department of Health
- Queensland Health
- SA Health
- Tasmanian Department of Health
- Healthy WA
Questions to ask your doctor
Before approaching your doctor, it is important to conduct some research to explain how you think medical cannabis may be able to help you. It is also important to note your expectations of medical cannabis therapy and discuss the potential benefits you are searching with medical cannabis and its side effects.
Some important questions to ask your doctor are:
- Could medicinal cannabis help my condition?
- Is it safe for me to use?
- Will it affect my other medications?
- Are there any side effects?
You can also direct your doctor to BHC’s CanView.
CanView has a library of practical resources and tools for doctors to utilise for their medical cannabis patient consultations. With a section of the platform devoted to clinical resources, doctors can download training packs, clinical note templates, dosing and administration guidelines and more.
Medical cannabis must be prescribed by a doctor or obtained via a clinical trial. The laws differ between each state so be sure to check on these before approaching your doctor.
Disclaimer: CanView does not endorse the use of Medicinal Cannabis without lawful prescription. Just like any Medicine, Medicinal Cannabis may have both positive and negative side-effects on the user, and should only be prescribed to patients by a Health Professional with the authority and expertise to do so. The information provided by CanView is for informational and educational purposes, and is of a general nature. If you are interested in accessing Medicinal Cannabis please talk to your doctor and request a referral to a Medicinal Cannabis clinic.