Medicinal Cannabis

Content reference: Little Green Pharma June 2020.

How to access medical cannabis?

In Australia, medical cannabis is legal, however, there is a TGA approval pathway called ‘Special Access Scheme’ (SAS) which a doctor must submit their application on behalf of the patient in order to gain access to medical cannabis for the eligible patient.

As a part of the Special Access Scheme process, a doctor must note:

  1. why they are recommending the use of an ‘unapproved’ medicine
  2. how they plan to monitor the patient.

How do I know if I’d be eligible for medical cannabis?

You can take an Eligibility Questionnaire on to help you determine if you are potentially eligible for medical cannabis for therapeutic use in treating your condition. This helps a lot of patients learn about what a doctor will need to find out in a consult, saving them time and an expensive doctor consult fee before deciding if they would like to discuss with their doctor.

Medical cannabis in Australia

Medical cannabis (also known as medical marijuana) is the cannabis plant and its component cannabinoids (such as THC and CBD) that can be used for therapeutic purposes to alleviate symptoms using varying ratios of the cannabinoids for different therapeutic effect.

In November 2016, Australia legalised medical cannabis and the current position of the federal regulatory body, the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA), is that cannabinoid therapy should only be considered after established treatments have been unsuccessful or have had unwanted side effects.

What is medical cannabis being prescribed for?

  • Over 130 conditions had been approved for medicinal cannabis use in Australia by the TGA, with over 60% of SAS B approvals for the treatment of chronic pain of an unspecified origin (31 December 2019).
  • Over 46,000 SAS B approvals have been granted in Australia (31 May 2020).

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