Getting a medical marijuana card in Australia
The market surrounding medicinal cannabis is growing at a steady rate. All throughout the world, countries and states are legalising the controversial treatment for medical and research purposes.
As accessibility increases, more and more people are considering this plant-based treatment. Despite the interest, there is still confusion about the process to get a medical cannabis card in Australia. Buying weed is not exactly as simple as it might seem.
Medical marijuana refers to a treatment derived from the cannabis plant. The two main active ingredients found in cannabis-based medicines are THC and CBD. The former is psychoactive and the latter is not.
These products are mainly administered as a method of relieving symptoms associated with chronic conditions. Most of the prescriptions are issued for patients suffering from anxiety, pain, and sleeplessness.
For now, we are in the early stages of assessing how well these treatments work. The initial promising signs, however, have been enough to drive a rapidly growing market. As research continues to uncover the potential medical benefits, the market is sure to keep expanding.
Not everyone is convinced though, and the legal status does still vary across the globe. In comparison to a decade ago, however, it is a drastically different picture.
How can I buy medical marijuana?
To purchase medicinal cannabis, you’ll have to go through the required steps, as not everyone is entitled to access the alternative medication. To buy weed in Melbourne, there are legally available channels for patients.
The laws dictate that only patients who have obtained a valid prescription from an authorised medical practitioner can legally purchase medical cannabis.
The treatment is reserved for patients with chronic conditions who are struggling to find the necessary relief for their symptoms. When it comes to how to get a medical marijuana prescription, the first step is to consult with a doctor.
A patient may only apply for medical cannabis if conventional medicine is failing to work. In these cases, a doctor can help determine if medical marijuana is a suitable option going forward.
There will need to be evidence that medicinal cannabis may work, and the doctor must deem it clinically appropriate in the circumstances.
There is no restricted list of conditions or patient types when it comes to who can get medical marijuana. Prescriptions are instead determined on a case-by-case basis.
Who can prescribe medical marijuana?
The Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) oversees the supply of medical marijuana in Australia. As most medicinal cannabis products are unregistered substances, they have not undergone the same regulatory process as other medicines.
For doctors to prescribe medical marijuana to a patient, they must have approval from the TGA. A qualified health practitioner can get this approval via the Special Access Scheme or the Authorised Prescriber Scheme.
CBD is classified as a Schedule 4 prescription-only medicine while THC is categorised as a Schedule 8 controlled substance. There will soon be low-dose CBD products available as a Schedule 3 over-the-counter medication.
The laws may differ from state to state but in general, medicinal cannabis is available for patients who are in need.
The dangers of black-market products
A legal market doesn’t always kill the underground one, as is clear with medicinal cannabis. Anyone seeking such treatment, should be wary of buying cannabis-based products on the black market.
First and foremost, the underground market is not subject to any form of control or regulation. The products do not have to meet manufacturing requirements and the ingredients listed may not be accurate.
There is also the risk of contaminants or bacteria being included in the product. This means that there may be lasting health consequences.
Purchasing a cannabis product unlawfully can also lead to hefty fines or even imprisonment in severe cases. Remember, there is no legal market for the recreational use of cannabis in Australia.
While it may seem relatively harmless on the surface, it can lead to unpredictable and severe consequences. For safe and legal access, patients should always consult with a doctor, as they can provide the best guidance on who can get medical marijuana.
Are medical marijuana cards free?
Unfortunately, there are costs associated with accessing medicinal cannabis in Australia. The government does not subsidise access via the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme. This means that patients will have to bear the cost of the treatment.
While the costs are often touted as a significant stumbling block, recent times have seen the treatment turn more affordable. A few different factors influence the price of medical marijuana include:
- The product type.
- The concentration of CBD and/or THC.
- The frequency of use.
- The import costs.
The price patients end up paying can vary greatly. It may end up costing anywhere between $50 to $1000 per week depending on the nature of the condition and severity of the symptoms.
For now, the costs are higher as most of the products are imported from Canada and the U.S. But as local production increases, the imports are likely to get pushed aside. This will allow for a reduction in the general price of medical marijuana.
The most important step to getting a medical marijuana card is consulting with a doctor. A qualified medical practitioner can provide the best guidance when it comes to plant-based treatments.
If there is evidence to suggest that medical cannabis can provide relief for a patient’s condition, a doctor may write a prescription. Each patient is assessed on a case-by-case basis.
In Australia, medical marijuana is regulated by the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA). As most plant medicines are unregistered, doctors will first need to obtain approval from the TGA. Doctors can get approval via the Special Access Scheme (SAS) or the Authorised Prescribers Scheme (AP).
The cost of medicinal cannabis will vary depending on the patient’s circumstances. The product type, concentration of CBD and THC, import costs, and frequency of use all influence the price patients will have to pay.
For more information on how to qualify for medical marijuana, one of our highly qualified experts will be happy to assist.